, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 249–254 | Cite as

Sex differences in common Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) in response to an unfamiliar food task

  • Maria E. YamamotoEmail author
  • Camila Domeniconi
  • Hilary Box
Original Article


There is a growing body of information on sex differences in callitrichid behaviour that includes the animals’ performance in food tasks. For example, both reproductive and non-reproductive adult females have been found to be more successful than adult males in solving food tasks. In this study ten adult male and ten adult female common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus), housed individually, were tested with an unfamiliar task that involved the extraction of an embedded food. The task was to open a plastic canister that contained a raisin; the open end was covered with parchment paper. Each marmoset was given 15 trials in three blocks of 5 consecutive days. We measured the latency for each animal to open the lid and get the raisin—by one of five strategies that spontaneously emerged. The females learned the task faster and more efficiently than males; all the females opened the canister on day 1, for instance, in contrast to seven of the males on the same day. Females also progressively decreased the time that they took to open the tube. The final latency on day 15, for instance, was significantly shorter for the females. These results are consistent with relevant literature for callitrichids and cannot be accounted for in terms of differences in mental abilities, strength, hand morphology, or energy requirements. Further investigation is necessary to clarify the reasons for these differences.


Callithrix jacchus Gender differences Food task 



The authors wish to thank A. B. da Silva and E. Câmara for assisting with the care of the animals. During this project M.E.Y. was supported by CNPq grants (No. 461106/00-0 and 5224409/96).


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria E. Yamamoto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Camila Domeniconi
    • 2
  • Hilary Box
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do NorteNatalBrazil
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversidade Federal de São CarlosSão CarlosBrazil
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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