Hierarchical complexity of combinatorial manipulation in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella)

Authors

  • Gregory Charles Westergaard,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Poolesville, Maryland
    • Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, P.O. Box 529, Poolesville, MD 20837
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  • Stephen J. Suomi

    1. Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Poolesville, Maryland
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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the hierarchical complexity of combinatorial manipulation in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Two experiments were conducted. In Experiment 1 capuchins were presented with an apparatus designed to accommodate the use of probing tools. In Experiment 2 the same capuchins were presented with sets of nesting containers. Five of the ten subjects used probing tools and seven subjects placed objects in the containers. The capuchins' behavior reflected three hierarchically organized combinatorial patterns displayed by chimpanzees and human infants. Although the capuchins sometimes displayed the two more complex patterns (“pot” and “subassembly”), their combinatorial behavior was dominated by the simplest pattern (“pairing”). In this regard capuchins may not attain the same grammar of manipulative action that has been reported for chimpanzees and young human children. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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