Abstract # 13135 Poster # 61:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 9, 2018 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (Chula Vista ) Poster Presentation


HEADS YOU LOSE: THE IMPORTANCE OF VARIOUS SNAKE FEATURES IN AVOIDANCE REACTIONS BY RHESUS MONKEYS (MACACA MULATTA).

M. M. Mulholland1,2,4, S. J. Neal Webb2,3, S. J. Schapiro2 and N. G. Caine4
1Georgia State University, Neuroscience Institute, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA, 2University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Bastrop, TX 78602, 3Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, 4Department of Psychology, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, CA 92096
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     Primates typically react quickly and cautiously to snakes. However, it is not clear which features of snakes elicit avoidance once a possible snake has been detected. We conducted three experiments in which we assessed reactions to snake models by captive rhesus monkeys. In each experiment, at least 12 groups of 3-10 indoor/outdoor-housed monkeys were simultaneously presented with two snake models in front of which were 20 pieces of fruit. We examined shape (serpentine or straight, but with identical pattern and no visible head), pattern (with or without skin pattern, but both serpentine and with no visible head), and visibility of the head (both serpentine and identically patterned, but one with the head covered). The dependent variables of most interest were reluctance (i.e., latency) to initially reach for the fruit on each side and the side from which the fruit was taken most quickly in the 5 min trial. No differences were found in the experiments comparing shape and pattern (binomial tests p>.05), but there was a strong effect of snake head such that, in all 12 groups, the food on the side with the non-headed snake was consumed more quickly than the food on the headed side (p<.001). This is the first evidence that the head of a snake might be an important feature in the elicitation of avoidance reactions in primates.