Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) exploit information about what others can see but not what they can hear.
Studies suggest that haplorhine primates are sensitive to what others can see and hear. Using two experimental designs, we tested the hypothesis that ring-tailed lemurs (N = 16) are also sensitive to the visual and auditory perception of others. In the first task, we used a go/no-go design that required lemurs to exploit only auditory information. In the second task, we used a forced-choice design where lemurs competed against a human who would prevent them from obtaining food if their approaches were detected. Subjects were given the choice of obtaining food silently or noisily when the competitor's back was turned. They were also given the choice to obtain food when the competitor could either see them or not. Here, we replicate the findings of previous studies indicating that ring-tailed lemurs are sensitive to whether they can be seen; however, we found no evidence that subjects are sensitive to whether others can hear them. Our findings suggest that ring-tailed lemurs converge with haplorhine primates only in their sensitivity to the visual information of others. The results emphasize the importance of investigating social cognition across sensory domains in order to elucidate the cognitive mechanisms that underlie apparently complex social behavior. These findings also suggest that the social dynamics of haplorhine groups impose greater cognitive demands than lemur groups, despite similarities in total group size.
Bray, J; Krupenye, C; Hare, B
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