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Visual Assessment of Avian Threat in Semi-Captive Ringtailed Lemurs (Lemur Catta)

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Visual assessment of avian stimuli as threatening or non-threatening was investigated experimentally in semi-captive, forest-living ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta). Subjects were presented silhouettes of different sizes and shapes on overhead runs. Antiraptor calls elicited by the silhouettes were recorded and quantified. Realistic and stylized hawk shapes elicited more total calling per trial than did a square shape. Large hawk shapes elicited longer individual calls than a large goose shape, and all bird shapes elicited longer calls than did a square but not a diamond shape. We suggest the observed response patterns reflect a differential in perceived avian threat and that they support an ecologically-oriented view of the "short neck" interpretation for raptor shape recognition.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, and Department of Zoology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27706, U.S.A.

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