Brief communication: Captive gorillas are right-handed for bimanual feeding

Authors

  • Adrien Meguerditchian,

    1. Department of Psychology, Research Center in Psychology of Cognition, Language and Emotion, Aix-Marseille University, 13621 Aix-en-Provence, France
    2. Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, GA 30329
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sarah E. Calcutt,

    1. The Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 60614
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Elizabeth V. Lonsdorf,

    1. The Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 60614
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Stephen R. Ross,

    1. The Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 60614
    Search for more papers by this author
  • William D. Hopkins

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, GA 30329
    2. Department of Psychology, Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA 30030
    • Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, 954 Gatewood Road, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Predominance of right-handedness has historically been considered as a hallmark of human evolution. Whether nonhuman primates exhibit population-level manual bias remains a controversial topic. Here, we investigated the hypothesis that bimanual coordinated activities may be a key-behavior in our ancestors for the emergence and evolution of human population-level right-handedness. To this end, we collected data on hand preferences in 35 captive gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) during simple unimanual reaching and for bimanual coordinated feeding. Unimanual reaching consisted of grasping food on the ground, while bimanual feeding consisted of using one hand for holding a food and processing the food item by the opposite hand. No population-level manual bias was found for unimanual actions but, in contrast, gorillas exhibited a significant population-level right-handedness for the bimanual actions. Moreover, the degree of right-handedness for bimanual feeding exceeds any other known reports of hand use in primates, suggesting that lateralization for bimanual feeding is robust in captive gorillas. The collective evidence is discussed in the context of potential continuity of handedness between human and nonhuman primates. Am J Phys Anthropol 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ancillary