Mirror-Directed Social Behaviors of Garnett's Greater Bush Baby (Otolemur garnettii)


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Abstract

Many diurnal anthropoid species direct social behaviors toward their own mirror-image as though viewing a conspecific. To determine whether a nocturnal prosimian species would behave similarly, we videotaped social responses of 45 Garnett's greater bush babies (Otolemur garnettii) observing mirror-images for the first time, scored them for frequency and duration, and compared them with the same behaviors directed elsewhere in the test apparatus. Males scentmarked more than females did, principally with the hindfoot, and most when in immediate proximity to the mirror. Bush babies displayed bipedal posture and threat gestures when oriented directly toward a mirror from a near position. Orientation toward the mirror also increased the frequency of arched-back postures; however, this behavior was not contingent on proximity to the mirror or visibility of the mirror-image. The differential expression of specific behaviors toward mirror-images by male and female bush babies supports the view that this nocturnal prosimian, thought to be dependent on olfaction and audition for communication, is capable of specific recognition by visual cues alone.

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