Abstract # 13331 Poster # 104:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 22, 2019 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (Alumni Lounge) Poster Presentation


S. J. Neal Webb1,2, M. M. Mulholland1,3, S. J. Schapiro1,2 and N. G. Caine4
1UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research, National Center for Chimpanzee Care, 650 Cool Water Drive, Bastrop, TX 78602, USA, 2University of Copenhagen, 3Georgia State University, 4California State University San Marcos
     Evidence supporting the importance of snakes in primate evolution is growing, indicating that primates are specially adapted to detect snakes and that certain snake-related characteristics attract and hold our attention. However, there are few studies that compare primates’ reactions to snakes in comparison to other animals that are taxonomically close to and share some characteristics with snakes. We studied the willingness of 16 groups of socially housed chimpanzees to reach for food in front of a realistic rattlesnake model (“snake trials”) and, in subsequent trials, a model of an iguana (“lizard trials”). Chimpanzee groups exhibited significantly longer latencies to reach for food during snake trials (M=81.14s, SE=19.74) than lizard trials (M=30, SE=6.94; t(13)=3.20, p= 0.007). Groups also exhibited significantly more alarm-calling and hesitation during snake than lizard trials, as well as a trend toward a higher number of gestures directed toward the snake model (M=1.33, SE=0.43) than the lizard model (M=0.40, SE=0.21; t(14)=1.93, p=0.074). In line with the results of event-related potential studies, these are the first behavioral data to show that general reptilian features do not elicit a threat response that is equal to that elicited by snakes.