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A Comparative Assessment of Hand Preference in Captive Red Howler Monkeys, Alouatta seniculus and Yellow-Breasted Capuchin Monkeys, Sapajus xanthosternos

Sfar, Nasibah and Mangalam, Madhur and Kaumanns, Werner and Singh, Mewa (2014) A Comparative Assessment of Hand Preference in Captive Red Howler Monkeys, Alouatta seniculus and Yellow-Breasted Capuchin Monkeys, Sapajus xanthosternos. In: PLOS ONE, 9 (10).

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1371/journal.pone.0107838

Abstract

There are two major theories that attempt to explain hand preference in non-human primates-the `task complexity' theory and the `postural origins' theory. In the present study, we proposed a third hypothesis to explain the evolutionary origin of hand preference in non-human primates, stating that it could have evolved owing to structural and functional adaptations to feeding, which we refer to as the `niche structure' hypothesis. We attempted to explore this hypothesis by comparing hand preference across species that differ in the feeding ecology and niche structure: red howler monkeys, Alouatta seniculus and yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys, Sapajus xanthosternos. The red howler monkeys used the mouth to obtain food more frequently than the yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys. The red howler monkeys almost never reached for food presented on the opposite side of a wire mesh or inside a portable container, whereas the yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys reached for food presented in all four spatial arrangements (scattered, on the opposite side of a wire mesh, inside a suspended container, and inside a portable container). In contrast to the red howler monkeys that almost never acquired bipedal and clinging posture, the yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys acquired all five body postures (sitting, bipedal, tripedal, clinging, and hanging). Although there was no difference between the proportion of the red howler monkeys and the yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys that preferentially used one hand, the yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys exhibited an overall weaker hand preference than the red howler monkeys. Differences in hand preference diminished with the increasing complexity of the reaching-for-food tasks, i.e., the relatively more complex tasks were perceived as equally complex by both the red howler monkeys and the yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys. These findings suggest that species-specific differences in feeding ecology and niche structure can influence the perception of the complexity of the task and, consequently, hand preference.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 1160 BATTERY STREET, STE 100, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94111 USA
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Id for Latest eprints
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2014 04:49
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2018 09:22
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/50371

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