A group of researchers have observed that macaque monkeys will turn to friends ahead of family members when seeking guidance.

The team from the University of Portsmouth studied the primates and measured how quickly they followed the gaze of another.

This is seen as an important aspect of the creatures' social development as it enables them to gain information about their surroundings, such as food sources or potential threats.

PhD student Jerome Micheletta of the University's Department of Psychology observed the macaques were more responsive to the actions of their friends than relatives.

He explained: "Our study shows that friendship, more than family ties or the status of another, improves the gaze-following ability of this particular macaque species. It is likely the same applies to other primates, including humans."

Mr Micheletta added there are several theories for why this may be the case, suggesting the activity helps build social cohesion and stability within a group.

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