Anonymous asked: when you were researching monkeys on an island did you have names for them all?? if so what were they??
There are roughly a thousand free-ranging rhesus macaques on Monkey Island (which is not it’s actual name, just what I call it on the blog!). Each monkey is individually identifiable via a tattoo on its chest and inner leg. (I realize, in typing it, that this makes it sound like the monkeys have human style tattoos—like, ‘oh, there’s the monkey with the dolphin tattoo, and look, that one says I heart Mom!’).
In reality, the tattoos are 3-digit number/letter combinations. The letter designates the generation in which that monkey was born. So a monkey whose tattoo ends in “D” is older than a monkey whose tattoo ends in “H” and so on. The numbers help identify the individual monkey, as opposed to all of the other monkeys born in the same birthing season as that monkey. Among the older monkeys, the letter appears at the end of the number.
So, for instance, my professor texted me earlier this year to tell me that one of our favorite monkeys, 85B, died this year. So sad! (Though I will point out that, with the B in the name, we are talking about a VERY OLD MONKEY here, because the people who do the numbering have already gone through the entire alphabet (one letter for each year) and had to start putting the letters in the middle of the numbers, a la 0E7, who was one of my favorite little guys the last time I went. So 85B lived a long monkey life).
So the numbers are the way that we identify the monkeys and know who is in what group, and who is related to who, and who falls where on the hierarchy, and so on. But sometimes, we also give the monkeys unofficial names. ”Josh Monkey,” “Laurie Monkey,” and “Shawn Monkey” are just a few of the monkeys we named after people (sometimes boyfriends/girlfriends/exes/crushes, sometimes people on the island with us). And we also had “Surfer Girl” and “Gwen” (after Gwen Stefani), who were rather svelte monkeys with distinctive blonde coloring. And there was this one female monkey that we spent an entire summer calling “Phil,” though I can’t quite remember why.
And that is probably more than you ever wanted to know about the naming and identifying of monkeys on Monkey Island.