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Volume 2 Issue 4 (November 1999), Pages 387-494

Chimpanzee Use of Human and Conspecific Social Cues to Locate Hidden Food (pages 448-456)

Two studies are reported in which chimpanzees attempted to use social cues to locate hidden food in one of two possible hiding places. In the first study four chimpanzees were exposed to a local enhancement cue (the informant approached and looked to the location where food was hidden and then remained beside it) and a gaze/point cue (the informant gazed and manually pointed towards the location where the food was hidden). Each cue was given by both a human informant and a chimpanzee informant. In the second study 12 chimpanzees were exposed to a gaze direction cue in combination with a vocal cue (the human informant gazed to the hiding location and produced one of two different vocalizations: a ‘food‐bark’ or a human word‐form). The results were: (i) all subjects were quite skillful with the local enhancement cue, no matter who produced it; (ii) few subjects were skillful with the gaze/point cue, no matter who produced it (most of these being individuals who had been raised in infancy by humans); and (iii) most subjects were skillful when the human gazed and vocalized at the hiding place, with little difference between the two types of vocal cue. Findings are discussed in terms of chimpanzees’ apparent need for additional cues, over and above gaze direction cues, to indicate the presence of food.

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