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Gestural Communication and Its Cognitive Implications in Pigtail Macaques (Macaca Nemestrina)

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The aims of this study were to identify the context of occurrence of some of the most prominent gestural signals in pigtail macaques and discuss the cognitive implications of some communicative interactions observed in this species. The occurrence of 15 selected visual and tactile behavior patterns in a multi-male multi-female captive group of pigtail macaques was recorded with the behavior sampling method in 100 h of observation. Bared-teeth, presentation, and lip-smack were primarily submissive signals displayed by both males and females, whereas nonthrusting mounts appeared to reflect dominance. Ventro-ventral embracing and eyebrow displays were used as affiliative and bonding patterns between females and between males, respectively. The pucker was the most frequent signal observed in the group. Although the pucker occurred in several different contexts, in most cases this signal served a distance-reducing or summoning function. Gestural signals appeared to be used by pigtail macaques to communicate emotional states and intentions to other individuals as well as to request the participation of other individuals in specific social interactions.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology and Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University, 2409 Taylor Lane, Lawrenceville, GA 30243, USA


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