What Do Bonobos (Pan paniscus) Understand About Physical Contact?

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Abstract

The present study aimed to test what bonobos (Pan paniscus) understand about contact. The task consisted of a clear horizontal tube containing a piece of food and a stick with a disk attached. The bonobos chose which side to push or pull the stick for the disk to contact the food and make it accessible. There were 9 variations in tube design, which differed in the positions of the stick, disk, and food. All 5 bonobos passed at least 1 configuration. A recent study (A. E. Helme, N. S. Clayton, & N. J. Emery, 2006) found that rooks could learn only tube configurations that provided an asymmetrical stick cue, whereas bonobos did not demonstrate an understanding of contact but showed more individual variation, attending to the positions of the food, disk, and stick.

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