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Monkeys understand basic forms of wealth

For a monkey, water is wealth.

U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Kasey Close

When the money is water, "wealthier" monkeys take more risks. Which makes them a decent model for human behavior.

Much like their human cousins, wealthy primates are more likely to monkey around with their money, says a new study on how monkeys perceive wealth and risk.

Currency means little to a rhesus monkey, of course, so to look at how monkeys approach risk-taking, the study examined how they treated a gambling task that rewarded them with a drink. Wealth was measured in terms of water--if a monkey started out thirsty, he or she was "poorer" than a monkey that was sated (as measured by a blood test).

The monkeys were for the most part, slightly averse to risk, but they were even less willing to take risks when they were thirsty. Monkeys that were "richer" in hydration took bigger gambles--much like human investors. This is contrary to the findings of some previous research on animals. One study found that birds take more risks when they're hungry (food being another indicator of animal wealth).

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