Object Manipulation and Tool Use in Nicobar Long-Tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis umbrosus)

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Abstract

Object manipulation and tool use by nonhuman primates have received considerable attention from primatologists and anthropologists, because of their broad implications for understanding the evolution of tool use in humans. To date, however, most of the studies on this topic have focused on apes, given their close evolutionary relationship with humans. In contrast, fewer studies on tool use and object manipulation have been conducted on monkeys. Documenting and studying object manipulation and tool use in species that are more distantly related to humans can provide a broader perspective on the evolutionary origins of this behavior. We present a detailed description of tool-aided behaviors and object manipulation by Nicobar long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis umbrosus) living along the coastlines of Great Nicobar Island. We made observations from December 2018 to March 2019, using ad libitum and focal sampling methods. We observed behaviors related to object manipulation and tool use in six different behavioral contexts (foraging, hygiene, communication, play, self-directed and self-hygiene behavior) involving eight different types of objects: resonance rod, play object, rolling platform, scraping tool, dental groom, pounding substrate, leaves as grip pads and wipers, and stimulation tool. We observed that males were involved in tool use and object manipulation more frequently than females. Our results add to existing records of object manipulation, tool-use behavior, and tool variants displayed by nonhuman primates, showing that Nicobar macaques perform multiple and diverse tool-aided behaviors.

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Change history

  • 12 August 2020

    The original version of this article unfortunately contained mistakes in Methods and Acknowledgements sections.

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Acknowledgments

We want to thank the Chief Secretary, Andaman & Nicobar Administration, Forest Department of Andaman and Nicobar Island, Andaman and Nicobar Tribal Welfare Department for permitting us to conduct the work. The present study was financially supported by the International Primatological Society (Research Grant) and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali awarded to Jayashree Mazumder (PhD student, IISER Mohali). We would also like to thank Pondicherry University (Port Blair Campus), the local people of Port Blair and Campbell Bay, Mr Amit Kerketta, Mr Paparao, Mr Srinu and his family, and forest rangers Dakhmi and Vinod Singh for their support and help during the study. We thank Parth R. Chauhan for his guidance and support during the study and article preparation. We also thank the reviewers and the editor-in-chief Dr. Joanna Setchell for their constructive comments that helped enhance the quality of the article.

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JM designed the study and collected the data; JM and SSKK developed the methodology, performed data analyses and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jayashree Mazumder.

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Handling Editor: Joanna M. Setchell

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Mazumder, J., Kaburu, S.S.K. Object Manipulation and Tool Use in Nicobar Long-Tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis umbrosus). Int J Primatol 41, 141–159 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-020-00141-y

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Keywords

  • Behavior plasticity
  • Forage
  • Great Nicobar Island
  • Play
  • Self-directed
  • Self-hygiene
  • Sex bias