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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2012 Dec;149(4):591-8. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22175. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Termite fishing laterality in the Fongoli savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus): further evidence of a left hand preference.

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Division of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Whether nonhuman primates show population-level handedness is a topic of much scientific debate. A previous study of handedness for termite fishing reported population-level left handedness in the chimpanzees from Gombe National Park, Tanzania. In the current study, we examined whether similar hand preferences were evident in a savanna-dwelling chimpanzee population with regards to termite fishing. Hand preference data were collected for 27 chimpanzees from February 2007 through July 2008 and November 2011 through January 2012 in southeastern Senegal. Overall, the Fongoli chimpanzees demonstrate a trend toward population-level handedness, though the results did not reach conventional levels of statistical significance likely due to the limited sample size. Fongoli chimpanzees showed the same pattern of left hand preference as reported at Gombe and the two populations did not differ significantly. When the data were combined across all studies, wild chimpanzees showed a population-level left hand preference for termite fishing.

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