Japanese macaques, or “snow monkeys,” have been spotted taking baths in man-made hot springs during winter for decades. Now, researchers have discovered exactly why the monkeys do this.
The results are not exactly Earth-shattering: The monkeys are cold.
But the researchers also found that indulging in a hot-spring bath may lower the monkeys’ levels of biological stress.
“This indicates that, as in humans, the hot spring has a stress-reducing effect in snow monkeys,” study lead author Rafaela Takeshita, of Kyoto University in Japan, said in a statement. “This unique habit of hot spring bathing by snow monkeys illustrates how behavioral flexibility can help counter cold-climate stress,” Takeshita said.
The study was published Tuesday (April 3) in the journal Primates.
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