Flashcards in Lecture 15: Human and animal Deck (17):
Why is it important to study primate behaviour?
To learn more about the primate in us and to learn more about primates.
Describe some similarities in behaviours of human and non-human primates, some of these behaviours are rudimentary components of complex behaviours.
Have these behaviours evolved from common ancestors?
Human behaviour is very unique but there are similarities;
1. Referential calling; Vervets have 3 distinct alarm calls for different organisms, e.g. a leopard call.
2. Distinguishing between self and others; Humans and other primates are able to recognise themselves during a mirror task.
You don't know, they could be homologous or analogous similarities.
Describe the development of behaviours in primates
They have complex social behaviours that are learned during the long developmental period. There is also long parental investment; Ferrari 2009 found that macaque mothers show exaggerated infant directed behaviours. Neonate monkeys and apes (under 2 weeks) copy behaviours of others.
Give an example of a cross fostering ape language project
Kanzi's study. Savage-rumbaugh taught kanzi to formulate simple sentences and recognise and learn words using a lexigram.
What are the three sets of primate characteristics that makes a primate a primate according to Benton 1990?
Give one more characteristic
1. Adaptations for life on trees, they have increased mobility, for example, their shoulder joint allows them to rotate their arms. They also have good grasp, for example, the opposable thumb, big toes and flat nails.
2. Reproductive specialisations; single offspring or twins (normally), long parental investment before and after birth and social contact for learning social skills (this is the central technique for this).
3. Complex visual system; Binocular vision, allowing depth perception, which is good for tree living animals, also their eyes on the front of their face.
We also have a larger brain size and neocortex due to neurological demands.
Why are primate brains so large?
They're 1.5-7.5 times larger than expected for mammals. There are different factors for its size, it could be an adaptation for life in the trees, it could be for our complex social systems, or for communication. We could have a large and more developed neocortex because of selection pressures
What is the function of the neocortex?
There are multiple neocortical functions: visual perception, vocal communication, taking over behavioural control. Most of these functions are still present in non-mammals though.
List three pioneers that researched the ape field
Goodall - Chimps
Fossey - Gorillas
Galdikas - Orangutans
List some social behaviours of primates
Dominance hierarchies; Alpha males get more food and females, they have different strategies.
Social groups, reproduction and dispersion; they usually live in harems (one male, multiple females, sexual dimorphism), the males often disperse and group around females (matriline).
Aggressive behaviour; Fights within or with other groups
Grooming, play and social proximity; important for affiliation and important for mothers and infants.
Communication; vocalisations, facial expressions and gestures.
How did social cognition emerge? This is needed for cooperation and competition
Humphrey 1976; He formulated the social intelligence hypothesis; social cognition was the driving force for increased brain size and the large brains has allowed us to have complex social interactions and thoughts. It also states that cognition was driven by competition. This is because after fights, reconciliation would occur, then consolation and they may even then be altruistic and share food. Non-human primates even cooperate to solve problems.
Henrike 2007; human unique social cognition wasn't driven by competition, it was driven by cooperation.
What is the difference between human and ape cognition?
We both have similarities in understanding like the physical world for foraging or the social world for competition, however, humans have unique sets of cognitions are motivations like collaborating, social learning and sharing cultural information.
Briefly describe learning abilities in animals
Many animals have unique learning abilities and cultures, like bees with their innate dancing or octopuses hiding in coconuts.
What are the two main types of learning?
Associative learning; When an event evokes another, this involves operant (Thorndike) and classical conditioning (Pavlov)(McGrath).
Social learning; Learning from others to increase our chance of survival and reproductive success.
How do cultures emerge?
Humans have reached cultural heights. There is research into emerging cultures. For example, 50 years ago, macaques on Koshima began washing sweet potatoes
and now everyone in the population does it.
It has been found that the components for a rudimentary culture are behaviourally based, they are: shown by community members, socially learned and persist through time. For example, young animals learn to use tools via observation, imitation and practise.
Novel techniques can be taught to animals and these techniques will spread within the community.
For example, only 3 populations of chimps use sticks for ants. More behaviours can be found via phylogenetic analysis. Some chimps use tools to open hard shelled fruits.
Discuss animal communication
Animals have signals that serve a particular function for the receiver. The receiver can be affected via a simple form like reflex responses or via a complex cognitive form. However, we don't know whether it's intentional as the primates can't tell us whether it is or not. When studying animal communication we can learn about the mechanisms of communication independent of whether they are shared with humans or not. We can learn how dialects emerge.
Apes have functionally referential calls and chimps have distinct calls for particular foods, like bread or apple, this is what Slocombe 2005 found.
What was the underlying behaviour that language evolved from?
It could either be vocalisations found in all land living vertebrates or it could be gestures, found in apes and humans.
It has been found that vocalisations are key behaviours for language to evolve but Pollick 2007 found that gestures had this role. This is because gestures is a more flexible communicative system as apes use gestures more flexibly across contexts compared to vocals.
It could be multi-modal and both were required.