Just as we humans are feeling all smug about our abilities to broadcast our daily schedule and plans via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, comes news that we are no pioneers - Male Orangutans have been doing it for years, without requiring computers or sophisticated technology.
The ape's social networking skills were published in the September edition of scientific journal PlOS One by University of Zurich primatologist Carel van Schaelk, who stumbled upon them while following a group of 15 wild male orangutans through the dense tropical swamplands of Sumatra, Indonesia for 320 days.
The researcher says a typical scenario would involve one of the dominant orangutans turning and facing in the direction of his route and letting out a loud whoop sometimes for as long as four minutes. He would then retire for the night and head in that exact direction the following morning. During their time in the forests, the researcher and his team heard over 1,100 such calls that resulted in the same routine.
While they are not completely sure why the apes announce their plans so publicly, the scientists believe that the alpha males do it so that female orangutans can stay close and be protected from being harassed by other males.
While Carel van Schaelk and his team conducted this research almost two decades ago, they did not publish it since they believed people would think their findings were a little far-fetched. However, after similar studies conducted in zoos and other protected environments reached the same conclusions, they believed it was time to prove to the world that this was indeed the case.
This is not the first time animals have been seen planning for the future. In 2009 Santino, a 31-year old chimpanzee at Sweden's Furuvik zoo was observed gathering stones and chunk of concrete and hiding them, to use later as ammunition against annoying visitors.
Western Scrub-Jays have been observed storing food in places that they know they would have access to, the following morning. While this is impressive, what is even more so, is that in experiments conducted in 2009, they and Eurasian Jays would forage for and store foods that they knew would be unavailable to them when they returned, rather than the one they preferred at the time they were performing the task. Some researchers believe that even rodents have this capability, putting seriously in jeopardy the long believed theory that humans are the only smart species that can plan for the future!