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I often hear people lecturing about how to open a banana from the "right" end, including an explanation that this is how monkeys do it.

A quick search in the internet offers a lot of examples (for example: this Youtube video or this Instructables page), but I fail to find a proof that monkeys either open bananas consistently this way, or that they don't do it.

Is there truth behind this claim, or is this merely an urban legend?

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    Do you mean primates (monkeys and apes) or really monkeys? (and then there are still hundreds of different species and not all of them have the same level of intelligence/handiness which could affect how they eat bananas). Btw some of them eat the banana as a whole without any peeling. Or eat it as a whole then spit out the peel. (even differs between individuals of the same species) So it would need quite a wide-scale study to provide a definitive answer to such general question and I don't think there is one. – stijn Oct 14 '17 at 13:16
  • Also, most humans that I've observed generally use a knife to slit the stem end, making the peeling much easier. Few apes or monkeys have access to knives :-) – jamesqf Oct 14 '17 at 17:33
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    @jamesqf knives to open bananas? Wow, I've never seen anyone do that... – Erik Oct 15 '17 at 9:18
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    @JAB: You don't cut the end off (or at least I don't), you slice about halfway through just above the flesh, then you can peel the stem back and get the banana without any squishing. – jamesqf Oct 16 '17 at 18:37
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    By that logic we should eat rabbit and deer raw, 'cause that is how wolves do. Oh, and we also should live in the open, away from buildings, in the woods, because that's how monkeys do. This "the right way to do something is the way a random wild animal does" argument is logically invalid. The major gist of humankind is to devise new, more efficient ways to do old stuff. That's why we are one of the most successful species on the planet by some measure or another. – T. Sar Oct 17 '17 at 12:14
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This is a myth, because monkeys don't normally eat bananas in the wild.

"The entire wild monkey-banana connection in fact is total fabrication," Katharine Milton, who has studied the diets of primates for decades, told Tech Insider. "The edible banana is a cultivated domesticated plant and fruit. Wild monkeys never encounter bananas at all ever unless they are around human habitation where bananas are or have been planted."

Business Insider

This is of course an appeal to authority, however Katharine Milton is a world class expert on primate nutrition.

Furthermore, according to this other Tech Insider video she also stated that

Monkeys don't eat bananas in the wild and if they were handed a banana, they would probably just bite into the peel.

A more general interview in which she talks about the diet of monkeys and apes--bonus, she also talks against fad diets after that.

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    While this is factually correct, it merely tells us that a particular group of primates does probably not use the 'floral end method'. Which does not prove it is impossible another group of primates (say a group of primates in captivity being given bananas) would consistently use the method (which could still be because they learned it from humans, but that's something else) hereby giving birth to the story. – stijn Oct 16 '17 at 11:17
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    @stijn it tells us that no primates eat bananas in the wild, which is what the myth asserts, quite openly. In fact, I can't even find evidence that primates eat bananas that way in any case. The myth makes the following (fallacious) case: monkeys know well how to eat bananas, monkeys eat from the floral end, therefore the right way of eating bananas is from the floral end. The first leg is disproven, the second called into question. – Sklivvz Oct 16 '17 at 20:38
  • which is what the myth asserts, quite openly. if you put it that way, then yes, your answer is ok. But the myth is just "primates do it that way" which is, I think, not the same as "all primates do" nor "primates in the wild do"? I mean, I also don't know of any research for this, nor have seen any primate eat it that way (I do have seen them bite the floral end then peel it though, which comes quite close), but I still wouldn't be surprised this story originated from observations of a group of captivated apes. But without source, it's also impossible to prove. – stijn Oct 17 '17 at 7:31
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    I see and match your ape authority with Jane Goodall. ;) (Note that this is from a comedy show, not a documentary or academic lecture. So take with reasonable amount of salt). – MichaelK Oct 17 '17 at 13:47
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    Could it be argued that the only primates who eat bananas on a regular basis are Humans, and they have various ways to open the bananas ? – Evargalo Oct 18 '17 at 12:13
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Yes, some monkeys do peel bananas from the floral end, if they get access to them, but not all the time.

While Sklivvz's answer is correct about the lack of access of monkeys to bananas in the wild, monkeys who live next to humans have access to bananas, and, at least some of them, do peel the banana from the floral side.

Here are some videos depicting monkeys peeling a banana from the floral side. Please take note, however, that the monkeys don't do it as "neatly" as it's depicted in the video by the human, and use their teeth to help them peel the banana.

and more:

But this is not true for all monkeys or apes.

Some apes don't even bother to peel their bananas, as is depicted in the video Orangutans eating bananas at feeding station in Borneo, where several Orangutans are seen just putting one or several whole bananas in their mouth and eating it as is, with the peel.

Also, a note about the wording of that particular claim, there is no "right" way to peel a banana, while the claim says that peeling from the floral end is the "right" way, what they actually mean is that it's an easier way, which is subjective.

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