Finished Filming

Well, it’s done. Not my whole project mind you, but the summer and my data collection. I amassed close to a hundred gigabytes of data. Fifty hours of film of saki monkeys sleeping, eating, grooming, and in a few precious instances gesturing to one another. I’ve coded the film and have about 100 instances of gesture. Quick math says that averages to about two gestures an hour but that’s really deceptive. Most of the gestures occurred in sequence and during compressed periods. Some fifteen minute periods have 10 or more gestures.

Overall, it has been a great experience and I have loved working at the National Zoo. Everyone was so helpful and encouraging about my project and the Zoo let me in early to film before most visitors arrived. Having read about how many of the animals in the Zoo reacted to the earthquake, I’m wondering how the sakis reacted, and whether they gestured more frequently before/after the quake than they usually did.

The next step, now I’ve coded all the film will be to statistically analyze the data. I know the basics of significance testing, but I am a little worried about my ability to do some of the tests I’ve seen in the secondary literature. I’ll be looking at what gestures occur most often, whether one pair gestured more than the other, etc. Though this process will be slightly less time consuming than the actual filming, I’m much more unsure about it. I’ll check back in here once I have finished for real and the results are finalized!

(A link to an article about the animals reaction to the earthquake)


  1. This research primate social behavior sounds very interesting, and the National Zoo seems like it was a wonderful resource for your project. Despite the initial change from working with marmosets to working with these saki monkeys, I’m glad to hear things worked out for you.

    What kinds of gestures do the monkeys make to each other? Have the type of gestures used by saki monkeys and the frequency of each gesture been documented elsewhere? Do you know how they compare to gestures used by other primates? Good luck analyzing your data!

  2. lkfunkhouser says:

    This is one of the most interesting projects I have read about from this summer!! I hadn’t heard about the animals’ responses to the earthquake, did any of them show a response before people felt it? I don’t know much about the sensitivity of different animals but I think it would be interesting to hear about. Good luck with data analyses,