Advertisement

Animal Cognition

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 223–230 | Cite as

Spontaneous performance of wild baboons on three novel food-access puzzles

  • Mark E. LaidreEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Although the technical problem-solving expertise of nonhuman primates has been investigated extensively in captivity, few species have been tested in their natural habitats. Here I examine the physical cognition of wild savanna baboons (Papio anubis), a species that occupies an omnivorous foraging niche in which a variety of embedded food items are extracted and processed. Baboons were tested on three puzzles, each involving high-quality food that required removal from a novel obstruction: (1) a string-pulling puzzle in which food was hung from tree branches, (2) a twig-dipping puzzle in which food was embedded in a vertical tube, and (3) a stick-pushing puzzle in which food was contained in a horizontal conduit. The baboons failed to solve the second and third puzzles even when tools had been appropriately positioned in advance. And although they solved the first puzzle, their actions (running while holding food that was still attached to the string), suggested they did not fully comprehend the string’s connective property. The baboons’ performance might reflect the time constraints of life in the wild, which relative to captivity may provide fewer opportunities for the development of understanding about the physical properties of objects and their potential uses as tools. Further experiments on the physical cognition of baboons and many other primate species in their natural habitats would help test this ontogenetic hypothesis. Such field experiments would be especially fruitful if they continued to target extractive foragers like baboons: these experiments could simultaneously provide a test of phylogenetic hypotheses that invoke extractive foraging as the key stimulus for brain expansion in savanna-dwelling hominids.

Keywords

Technical intelligence Problem solving Field experiments Cognitive development Evolutionary origins 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I thank Raphael Eiyanae Erengai for assistance and genial companionship in the field, and the Mpala Research Centre for allowing me to carry out this study, especially Nick Georgiadis and Chris Odhiambo. I am indebted to Sango Leleshu for making the string-pulling experiment a reality, Christie Riehl for serendipitously supplying the string, Philip Muruthi for expert discussion during a visit to the field, and Dan Rubenstein for loaning video equipment and binoculars. Stuart Altmann, Tatiana Czeschlik, Jonathan Flombaum, Jim Gould, Robert Seyfarth, and the anonymous referees provided helpful comments on the manuscript. The experiments comply with the current laws of the country (Kenya) in which they were performed. Supported by a grant from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

Supplementary material

ESM1 (WMV 3998 kb)

ESM2 (WMV 3733 kb)

ESM3 (WMV 4514 kb)

References

  1. Altmann SA (1998) Foraging for survival: yearling baboons in Africa. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  2. Altmann SA, Altmann J (1970) Baboon ecology: African field research. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck BB (1972) Tool use in captive hamadryas baboons. Primates 13:276–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck BB (1973) Cooperative tool use by captive hamadryas baboons. Science 182:594–597PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beck BB (1980) Animal tool behavior: the use and manufacture of tools by animals. Garland STPM Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Benhar EE, Samuel D (1978) A case of tool use in captive olive baboons (Papio anubis). Primates 19:385–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Birch H (1945) The relation of previous experience to insightful problem solving. J Comp Psychol 38:367–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Biro D, Inoue-Nakamura N, Tonooka R, Yamakoshi G, Sousa C, Matsuzawa T (2003) Cultural innovation and transmission of tool use in wild chimpanzees: evidence from field experiments. Anim Cogn 6:213–223PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bolwig N (1961) An intelligent tool-using baboon. S Afr J Sci 57:147–152Google Scholar
  10. Byrne R (1995) The thinking ape: evolutionary origins of intelligence. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Byrne RW, Whiten A (ed) (1988) Machiavellian intelligence: social expertise and the evolution of intellect in monkeys, apes, and humans. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Byrne RW (2000) How monkeys find their way: leadership, coordination, and cognitive maps of African baboons. In: Boinski S, Garber PA (eds) On the move: how and why animals travel in groups. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 491–518Google Scholar
  13. Flombaum JI, Junge JA, Hauser MD (2005) Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) spontaneously compute addition operations over large numbers. Cognition 97:315–325PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Engh AL, Hoffmeier RR, Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM (2006) Who, me? Can baboons infer the target of vocalizations? Anim Behav 71:381–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gould JL, Gould CG (1994) The animal mind. Scientific American Library, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Halsey LG, Bezerra BM, Souto AS (2006) Can wild common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) solve the parallel strings task? Anim Cogn 9:229–233PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hamilton WJ, Buskirk RE, Buskirk WH (1975) Defensive stoning by baboons. Nature 256:488–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hare B (2007) From nonhuman to human mind—what changed and why? Current Directions in Psychological Science 16:60–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hauser M, Spaulding B (2006) Wild rhesus monkeys generate causal inferences about possible and impossible physical transformations in the absence of experience. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:7181–7185PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hauser MD, MacNeilage P, Ware M (1996) Numerical representations in primates. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93:1514–1517PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hauser MD, Carey S, Hauser LB (2000) Spontaneous number representation in semi-free-ranging rhesus monkeys. Proc Roy Soc Lond B 267:829–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hayashi M (2007) Stacking of blocks by chimpanzees: developmental processes and physical understanding. Anim Cogn 10:89–103PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Heinrich B (1995) An experimental investigation of insight in the common raven Corvus corax. Auk 112:994–1003Google Scholar
  24. Heinrich B, Bugnyar T (2005) Testing problem solving in ravens: string-pulling to reach food. Ethology 111:962–976CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huber L, Gajdon GK (2006) Technical intelligence in animals: the kea model. Anim Cogn 9:295–305PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Inoue-Nakamura N, Matsuzawa T (1997) Development of stone tool use by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). J Comp Psych 111:159–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Köhler W (1927) The mentality of apes. Viking, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. Kummer H (1995) In quest of the sacred baboon: a scientist’s journey. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  29. Laidre ME (2007) Do captive mandrills invent new gestures? Anim Cogn (in press)Google Scholar
  30. Maple T (1975) Aggressive object displays of captive baboons. J Mammol 56:949–950CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Matsuzawa T (1994) Field experiments on use of stone tools by chimpanzees in the wild. In: Wrangham RW, McGrew WC, de Waal FBM, Heltne PG (eds) Chimpanzee cultures. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp 351–370Google Scholar
  32. Matsuzawa T (1996) Chimpanzee intelligence in nature and in captivity: isomorphism of symbol use and tool use. In: McGrew WC, Marchant LF, Nishida T (eds) Great ape societies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 196–209Google Scholar
  33. Matsuzawa T (1999) Communication and tool use in chimpanzees: cultural and social contexts. In: Hauser MD, Konishi M (eds) The design of animal communication. MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 645–671Google Scholar
  34. Mulcahy NJ, Call J (2006) How great apes perform on a modified trap-tube task. Anim Cogn 9: 193–199PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Muruthi P (1997) Socioecological correlates of parental care and demography in savanna baboons. Ph.D. thesis, Princeton University, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  36. Oyen OJ (1978) Stone-eating and tool-use among olive baboons. Texas J Sci 30:295Google Scholar
  37. Parker ST, Gibson KR (1979) A developmental model for the evolution of language and intelligence in early hominids. Behav Brain Sci 2:367–408Google Scholar
  38. Pettet A (1975) Matters arising—defensive stoning by baboons. Nature 258:549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pickford M (1975) Matters arising—defensive stoning by baboons. Nature 258:549–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Povinelli DJ (2000) Folk physics for apes: the chimpanzee’s theory of how the world works. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  41. Sakura O, Matsuzawa T (1991) Flexibility of wild chimpanzee nut-cracking behavior using stone hammers and anvils: an experimental analysis. Ethology 87:237–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Santos LR, Rosati A, Sproul C, Spaulding B, Hauser MD (2005) Means-means-end tool choice in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus): finding the limits on primates’ knowledge of tools. Anim Cogn 8:236–246PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Santos LR, Pearson HM, Spaepen GM, Tsao F, Hauser MD (2006) Probing the limits of tool competence: experiments with two non-tool-using species (Cercopithecus aethiops and Saguinus oedipus). Anim Cogn 9:94–109PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schiller PH (1957) Innate motor action as a basis of learning. In: Schiller CH (ed) Instinctive behavior. International Universities Press, New York, pp 264–287Google Scholar
  45. Sugiyama Y, Fushimi T, Sakura O, Matsuzawa T (1993) Hand preference and tool use in wild chimpanzees. Primates 34:151–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sulkowski GM, Hauser MD (2001) Can rhesus monkeys spontaneously subtract? Cognition 79:239–262PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tebbich S, Seed AM, Emery NJ, Clayton NS (2007) Non-tool-using rooks, Corvus frugilegus, solve the trap-tube problem. Anim Cogn 10:225–231PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tomasello M, Call J (1997) Primate cognition. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  49. van Lawick-Goodall J, van Lawick H, Packer C (1973) Tool-use in free-living baboons in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Nature 241:212–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Visalberghi E, Limongelli L (1994) Lack of comprehension of cause-effect relations in tool-using capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). J Comp Psychol 108:15–22PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vlasak AN (2006) Global and local spatial landmarks: their role during foraging by Columbian ground squirrels (Spermophilus columbianus). Anim Cogn 9:71–80PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Westergaard GC (1999) Structural analysis of tool-use by tufted capuchins (Cebus apella) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Anim Cogn 2:141–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Program in NeurosciencePrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

Personalised recommendations