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Anim Cogn. 2008 Jul;11(3):401-11. doi: 10.1007/s10071-007-0130-3. Epub 2008 Jan 9.

Experimental field study of hand preference in wild black-horned (Cebus nigritus) and white-faced (Cebus capucinus) capuchins: evidence for individual and species differences.

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1
Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA. p-garber@uiuc.edu

Abstract

In this experimental field investigation, we compare the degree to which wild capuchins in Brazil (Cebus nigritus) and Costa Rica (Cebus capucinus) exhibit individual- and population-level handedness during three visually-guided tasks. These tasks required reaching to remove a large leaf covering a hidden food reward, seizing the food reward, and manipulating a tool (pulling a wooden dowel) in order to obtain access to an embedded food reward. Studies in some populations of captive capuchins indicate evidence for both individual hand preferences and population-level handedness. In this study, six of eight wild C. capucinus and six of seven wild C. nigritus exhibited a significant hand preference during individual tasks, but no individual exhibited a consistent preference across all three tasks. Task-specialization, or the tendency for most individuals in the same group or population to use the same hand to accomplish a particular task, also was evaluated. Cebus nigritus showed a significant bias toward the use of the right hand in removing the leaf. Although the number of individual capuchins in both species that manipulated the dowels was limited (N = 7), each individual that manipulated the dowels in eight or more instances had a positive handedness index, suggesting a greater use of the right hand to accomplish this task. Overall, our results provide preliminary support for individual- and population-level handedness in wild capuchin monkeys.

PMID:
18183435
DOI:
10.1007/s10071-007-0130-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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