Animal Cognition

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 247–252 | Cite as

Analog number representations in mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz): evidence from a search task

  • Kerrie P. Lewis
  • Sarah Jaffe
  • Elizabeth M. Brannon
Original Article

Abstract

A wealth of data demonstrating that monkeys and apes represent number have been interpreted as suggesting that sensitivity to number emerged early in primate evolution, if not before. Here we examine the numerical capacities of the mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz), a member of the prosimian suborder of primates that split from the common ancestor of monkeys, apes and humans approximately 47–54 million years ago. Subjects observed as an experimenter sequentially placed grapes into an opaque bucket. On half of the trials the experimenter placed a subset of the grapes into a false bottom such that they were inaccessible to the lemur. The critical question was whether lemurs would spend more time searching the bucket when food should have remained in the bucket, compared to when they had retrieved all of the food. We found that the amount of time lemurs spent searching was indicative of whether grapes should have remained in the bucket, and furthermore that lemur search time reliably differentiated numerosities that differed by a 1:2 ratio, but not those that differed by a 2:3 or 3:4 ratio. Finally, two control conditions determined that lemurs represented the number of food items, and neither the odor of the grapes, nor the amount of grape (e.g., area) in the bucket. These results suggest that mongoose lemurs have numerical representations that are modulated by Weber’s Law.

Keywords

Prosimians Lemurs Numerosity Analog magnitude Manual search 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerrie P. Lewis
    • 1
  • Sarah Jaffe
    • 2
  • Elizabeth M. Brannon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Center for Cognitive NeuroscienceDuke UniversityUSA

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