Patterns of lateralized hand use in an arboreal primate, Simias concolor


  • Cory T. Miller,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado–Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
    2. Primate Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    • Primate Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland St., Cambridge, MA 02138
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  • Lisa M. Paciulli

    1. Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, State University of New York–Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York
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Studies of hand use in nonhuman primates suggest that several species exhibit hand preferences for a variety of tasks. The majority of studies, however, focus on the lateralized hand use of captive nonhuman primate populations. Although captive settings offer a more controlled environment for assessing hand preferences, studies of wild populations provide important insights into how handedness is affected by natural environmental conditions and thus potential insights into the evolution of handedness. To investigate handedness in a population of wild nonhuman primates, we studied patterns of lateralized hand use during feeding in four simakobu monkeys (Simias concolor), an arboreal species inhabiting the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia. Our data show that individual variation in hand preferences for feeding existed among our study animals. In addition, each simakobu expressed a significant hand preference for supporting itself on a branch during feeding, an uncoordinated bimanual task. This bias was most prevalent when the branch used for support was a main branch rather than a terminal branch. When both hands were employed in a coordinated bimanual feeding activity (bimanual manipulation), only two subjects showed a significant bias for feeding. Our data suggest that these individuals are more likely to express significant hand preferences when feeding from stable, rather than precarious, positions within the canopy. Am. J. Primatol. 56:231–236, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.