Aggressive onlookers force the hand of monkey mothers. Every parent is familiar with the feelings experienced when a child throws a public tantrum, and all too often the presence of scowling, disapproving strangers leads them to give in to the outburst.

A new study of rhesus macaques provides the first evidence that a similar effect is seen among our primate cousins.

Rhesus mothers are much more likely to give in to their offspring's tantrums when there are potentially aggressive animals nearby. Indeed, it appears that it is the threat of violence from these nearby animals that tips the balance in favour of the screaming infants, and forces mothers to acquiesce to their demands.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Proceedings B is the Royal Society's flagship biological research journal, dedicated to the rapid publication and broad dissemination of high-quality research papers, reviews and comment and reply papers. The scope of the journal is diverse and is especially strong in organismal biology.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

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