Abstract # 75:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 13, 2014 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 11 (Decatur B) Poster Presentation


TALK TO THE HAND: HAMADRYAS BABOON (PAPIO HAMADRYAS) HAND PREFERENCE IN GESTURAL COMMUNICATION

R. Vagell
Hunter College (CUNY), Animal Behavior and Conservation (ABC) Program, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA
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     Gestural communication is thought to be a precursor to the origin of human language. Since human language is lateralized between brain hemispheres, this study seeks to elucidate whether there is also a lateralization in nonhuman primate gestural communication. One way to investigate brain asymmetry is by observing species-specific behaviors for lateralized hand preference. In this preliminary study, hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas) were observed at Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York. Two types of gestural communication were examined to determine if they exhibit hand preference: hand slapping and muzzle wiping. An all occurrence sampling was completed in 3 weeks totaling 24 hours of observation and data collection. From these data, we calculated a Handedness Index (HI) and tested individuals for right or left hand preference using chi-squared tests. This study revealed that 42.9% of individuals exhibit a right hand preference for hand slapping (Chi square (1, N = 5) = 17.04, p < 0.001). 71.4% of individuals exhibit a right hand preference for muzzle wiping (Chi square (1, N = 7) = 10.50, p < 0.05). These results are consistent with previous studies on olive baboons (Papio anubis) (Vauclair et al., 2005; Meguerditchian & Vauclair, 2006; Meguerditchian & Vauclair, 2009). Results from this preliminary study can contribute to the study of nonhuman primate handedness, and the evolution of language.