Abstract # 122:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 26, 2017 05:15 PM-05:30 PM: (National Ballroom Salon A) Oral Presentation


N. Schwob1,2,3, W. Hopkins2,4,5 and J. Taglialatela1,2
1Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, Kennesaw, GA, USA, 2Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative, Des Moines, IA, 3Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, 4Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, 5Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, GA
     Human spoken language requires the concomitant utilization of numerous cognitive and motor skills. Two particularly relevant skills are orofacial-motor control (the ability to purposefully move ones’ facial muscles; hereafter known as OFM), and breath control (subglottal air pressure that fuels sound production; hereafter known as BC). Many have claimed these competencies are uniquely human qualities, without great ape antecedents. However, here we describe both skills in our closest extant relatives: chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus). We hypothesized that OFM and BC would be present in both species of Pan, and bonobos would demonstrate increased OFM and BC due to their stronger reliance on vocal communication compared to chimpanzees. To test this hypothesis, forty apes (20 chimpanzees) were trained to protrude their lower lip and tongue, inhale to retrieve a food item, and exhale to elevate a ball to a certain height in a clear cylinder. Apes underwent 50 OFM trials per condition, and the number of times the requested action was completed successfully was recorded. For BC, apes underwent 40 trials per condition, and success was recorded. If bonobos were to have increased OFM and BC, we predicted that they would successfully perform these tasks significantly more than chimpanzees. Preliminary data were analyzed using independent samples t-tests and indicate there are no species differences in OFM and BC (p=0.09).