Article

Hand preferences in Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus).

German Primate Center, Göttingen, Germany.
Laterality (Impact Factor: 1.13). 04/2008; 13(2):143-57. DOI: 10.1080/13576500701757532
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Nearly 90% of humans are right-handed, raising the question of the evolutionary origins of this trait. While lateralisation of certain actions appears to be widespread in vertebrates, the question of whether nonhuman primates exhibit hand preferences at the population level is often contested. We observed Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) living in the outdoor enclosure "La Forêt des Singes" at Rocamadour, France, while performing simple unimanual and coordinated bimanual tasks. For the unimanual task, we recorded continuously which hand they used reaching for grains. For the coordinated bimanual tasks, a semi-transparent box and a tube baited with peanut butter were presented to the macaques and the hand used to open the box or reach into the tube, respectively, was recorded. We found no significant hand preference in any of the tasks at the population level, but found individual hand preferences, the extent of which varied among individuals. For the unimanual, but not the bimanual task, we found that the handedness index increased with age. Our results add to the growing body of evidence that monkeys do not show hand preference at the population level.

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