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Keywords:

  • precision grips;
  • power grips;
  • hand preference;
  • hand efficiency;
  • New World monkeys

Abstract

This study investigates prehension in 20 tufted capuchins (Cebus apella) in a reaching task requiring individuals to grasp a small food item fixed to a tray. The aim was twofold: 1) to describe capuchins' grasping techniques in detail, focusing on digit movements and on different areas of contact between the grasping fingers; and 2) to assess the relationship between grip types and manual laterality in this species. Capuchins picked up small food items using a wide variety of grips. In particular, 16 precision grip variants and 4 power grip variants were identified. The most frequently used precision grip involved the distal lateral areas of the thumb and the index finger, while the most preferred kind of power grip involved the thumb and the palm, with the thumb being enclosed by the other fingers. Immature capuchins picked up small food items using power grips more often than precision grips, while adult individuals exhibited no significant preference for either grip type. The analysis performed on the time capuchins took to grasp the food and withdraw it from the tray hole revealed that 1) precision grips were as efficient as power grips; 2) for precision grips, the left hand was faster than the right hand; and 3) for power grips, both hands were equally quick. Hand preference analysis, based on the frequency for the use of either hand for grasping actions, revealed no significant hand bias at group level. Likewise, there was no significant relationship between grip type and hand preference. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.