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The ontogeny of exploratory object manipulation behaviour in wild orangutans


Schuppli, Caroline; Van Cauwenberghe, Anaïs; Mirta Setia, Tatang; Haun, Daniel (2021). The ontogeny of exploratory object manipulation behaviour in wild orangutans. Evolutionary Human Sciences:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

In human infants, exploratory object manipulation is a major vehicle for cognitive stimulation as well as an important way to learn about objects and basic physical concepts in general. The development of human infants’ exploratory object manipulation follows distinct developmental patterns. So far, the degree of evolutionary continuity of this developmental process remains unclear. We investigated the development of exploratory object manipulations in wild orangutans. Our data included 3200 exploration events collected on 13 immatures between the ages of 0.5 and 13 years, at the Suaq Balimbing monitoring station in Indonesia. Our results identify several parallels between the development of exploratory behaviour in humans and orangutans: on top of a highly similar overall age trajectory, we found an increase in variability of the actions used, an increase in the number of body parts involved in each event, and an overall decrease of mouthing of the objects. All in all, our results show that orangutans progress through a developmental sequence of different aspects of exploration behaviour. In combination with previous findings from captivity, our results also provide evidence that exploratory object manipulations reflect cognitive development and might function as a means of cognitive stimulation not just in humans but across the great apes.

Abstract

In human infants, exploratory object manipulation is a major vehicle for cognitive stimulation as well as an important way to learn about objects and basic physical concepts in general. The development of human infants’ exploratory object manipulation follows distinct developmental patterns. So far, the degree of evolutionary continuity of this developmental process remains unclear. We investigated the development of exploratory object manipulations in wild orangutans. Our data included 3200 exploration events collected on 13 immatures between the ages of 0.5 and 13 years, at the Suaq Balimbing monitoring station in Indonesia. Our results identify several parallels between the development of exploratory behaviour in humans and orangutans: on top of a highly similar overall age trajectory, we found an increase in variability of the actions used, an increase in the number of body parts involved in each event, and an overall decrease of mouthing of the objects. All in all, our results show that orangutans progress through a developmental sequence of different aspects of exploration behaviour. In combination with previous findings from captivity, our results also provide evidence that exploratory object manipulations reflect cognitive development and might function as a means of cognitive stimulation not just in humans but across the great apes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Evolutionary Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Cultural Studies
Social Sciences & Humanities > Anthropology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Applied Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Applied Psychology, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:2 July 2021
Deposited On:26 Jan 2022 05:29
Last Modified:28 Jan 2024 02:41
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:2513-843X
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/ehs.2021.34
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)