You would think that in nature, size wins out. This is not true. In animal conflict it's a game of poker, where those willing to bluff hard, gamble with confidence, and play for keeps come out on top. Shrieking like a monkey doesn't hurt either.
This is readily apparent to me because I got attacked by monkeys, and ran away like a little schoolkid.
Here's how it went down.
Our guide parked the open-top jeep at the national Park entrance to go fill out paperwork. We walked around for a bit and then realized that a small troupe of terrier-sized moneys had moved in on the jeep and were checking it out. Not knowing if everything was buttoned down, I returned and banged on the car hood to scare them out.
The biggest monkey simply froze and looked me in the eyes with this face, and then the entire pack exploded on me.
Here's what went through my head:
- Holy shit these things are aggressive!
- Ahh, the shrieking!
- I could crush one of these but I don't want to hurt them!
- Oh shit I'm surrounded!
I lost the encounter instantly and retreated, or as the marines put it, "advanced to the rear" with the monkeys in half-hearted pursuit. The victors then reclaimed the spoils of the Jeep.
Several American tourists who saw me came over and offered a rock, and said that they had the same problem and that rocks had worked for them, but I knew the cause was lost and the castle already taken.
The lesson, is that size isn't relevant when your opponent has nothing to lose.
And also that a liberal - democratic instinct to do no harm makes you complete monkey fodder.