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J Comp Psychol. 1996 Dec;110(4):406-11.

Hand preference for a bimanual task in tufted capuchins (Cebus apella) and rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).

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National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, USA.


This research examined hand preference for a bimanual task in 45 tufted capuchin (Cebus apella) and 55 rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) monkeys. Investigators presented subjects with plastic tubes lined with food and noted which hand the animals used to hold the tubes and which hand the animals used to remove the food. Several significant findings emerged from this investigation. First, rhesus macaques, but not tufted capuchins, exhibited a population-level bias toward use of the right hand (although the difference in direction of hand preference between species was not significant). Second, capuchins exhibited greater hand preference strength than did macaques. Third, among capuchins, but not among macaques, hand preference strength was greater for adults than for immatures. Finally, both species used their index digit to remove food most frequently when compared with other digits. Findings of hand preference direction and strength in this study were compared with other findings noted for chimpanzees which performed a bimanual tube task in a previous study. The authors conclude that using the same procedure to compare hand preference across species represents a powerful research tool that can lead to a more complete understanding of the evolution and ontogenesis of primate handedness.

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