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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The International Journal of Comparative Psychology is sponsored by the International Society for Comparative Psychology. It is a peer-reviewed open-access digital journal that publishes studies on the evolution and development of behavior in all animal species. It accepts research articles and reviews, letters and audiovisual submissions.

Volume 12, Issue 4, 1999


Naturalistic Approaches to Orangutan Intelligence and the Question of Enculturation

Field studies have been, and continue to be, important contributors to the

understanding of great ape cognition-especially with regard to questions of cognitive

ecology or the key cognitive challenges in the evolution of primate intelligence. They

are also critical to resolving a current debate, whether human enculturation boosts great

apes' cognition, because only studies of problem-solving in feral contexts can resolve

the question of whether abilities are higher in enculturated than non-enculturated great

apes. To this debate, this paper offers findings from observational field studies on freeranging

rehabilitant orangutans' cognitive capabilities, as revealed in their food

processing and arboreal positioning, and on the possible social transmission of that

expertise. These findings are combined with published findings on wild and

enculturated great apes as a basis for assessing the effects of human enculturation on

great ape cognition. This assessment joins several others in showing that free-ranging

great apes independently achieve cognition of the same order of complexity as

enculturated great apes, in concluding that claims for the effects of human enculturation

are likely inflated, and in suggesting that the basis for the effectiveness of human

enculturation is that great apes normally "enculturate" themselves.

Studies of Temperament in Simian primates with Implications for Socially Mediated Learning

The functions of social learning concern the acquisition of skills and

information that enable individuals to adjust competently to their environments.

However, individuals differ in the extents to which they cope with, maintain and create

social and other environmental opportunities. Hence, it is relevant to consider

dispositions of individuals interactively - as with emotion, attention and activity; to

emphasise self regulatory behaviour, as with selective attention towards or away from

environmental conditions. These propensities facilitate positive and negative responses

that are associated with the uptake and use of skill and information from other

individuals. In these regards, the study of temperament has fertile but mainly

unexplored potential. Examples are given from studies of simian primates in which

differences in temperament have predictive implications for social learning. When

relatively fearful animals confront challenging situations, they are likely to avoid them

and become physiologically disturbed. Less fearful and active animals interact more,

and in emotionally more positive ways with other individuals. They are more likely to

maintain closer physical proximity to others, to attend more to what they are doing and

where. Hence, they have greater chances of facilitating advantageous responses - as in

feeding strategies. In the acquisition of social skills, less fearful animals engage in play

activities more than relatively fearful animals. Such interactions facilitate the

development of information about other individuals, and the quality of social behaviour

that is developed. These examples show the value of an integrative approach to

behavioural studies - in which behaviour is considered with other biological systems.

Song Structure and Function of Mimicry in the Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen): Compared to Lyrebird (Menura ssp.)

This paper compares two species of songbird with the aim of elucidating

the function of song and also of mimicry. It attempts to understand why some birds

mimic and takes as examples the lyrebird (Menura sp.) and the Australian magpie

{Gymnorhina tibicen). Mimicry by the magpie and its development has been recorded

and analysed. The results show that magpies mimic in the wild and they do so

mimicking species permanently settled in their own territory. So far 15 types of

mimicry have been identified. One handraised Australian magpie even developed the

ability to vocalise human language sounds, words and phrases. Results show that

mimicry is interspersed into their own song at variable rates, not in fixed sequences as

in lyrebirds. In one case it was possible to show an extremely high retention rate of

learned material and a high plasticity for learning. Spectrogram comparisons of

sequences of mimicry with the calls of the original species, and comparison of magpie

mimicry with lyrebird mimicry is made. Both species may justifiably vie for the

position of the foremost songbirds of Australia, and both are territorial, yet the function,

structure and development of song are different in the two species. It is argued that

possible functions of mimicry are related not only to social organisation but also to the

niche each species occupies. Territoriality may go some way to explaining the

complexity of song but not necessarily the different functions of mimicry or the varying

degrees of complexity of communication. We need to ask what conditions may foster

development of complex communication patterns in avian species.

Failure to Find Proboscis Conditioning in One-Day Old Africanized Honey Bees (Apis Mellifera L,) and in Adult Uru§u. Honey bees (Melipona Scutellaris)

The proboscis extension reflex was used to investigate behavior

modification in one day old Africanized honey bees and in adult Uru^u honey bees.

Experiments were designed to investigate classical conditioning, pseudoconditioning,

and central excitatory state. Additional experiments examined the suitability of the

proboscis extension reflex to serve as a feeding assay were carried out on Urugu. The

results indicated no classical conditioning and no pseudoconditioning in young

Africanized bees or in the adult Uru9u. A large central excitatory effect was observed in

young Africanized bees, but only a small effect was observed in Urugu. The proboscis

extension reflex could be used as an assay to test the suitability of artificial diets in