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Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus) quantify split solid objects

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2012
Author Cacchione Trix, Hrubesch Christine, & Call Josep,
Project Core knowledge revisited: Effects of fission, fusion and shape transformation on infants’ ability to represent inanimate and animate objects
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Animal Cognition
Volume (Issue) 16
Page(s) 1 - 10
Title of proceedings Animal Cognition


Recent research suggests that gorillas’ and orangutans’ object representations survive cohesion violations (e.g., a split of a solid object into two halves), but that their processing of quantities may be affected by them. We assessed chimpanzees’ (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos’ (Pan paniscus) reactions to various fission events in the same series of action tasks modelled after infant studies previously run on gorillas and orangutans (Cacchione and Call 2010b). Results showed that all four non-human great ape species managed to quantify split objects but that their performance varied as a function of the non-cohesiveness produced in the splitting event. Spatial ambiguity and shape invariance had the greatest impact on apes’ ability to represent and quantify objects. Further, we observed species differences with gorillas performing lower than other species. Finally, we detected a substantial age effect, with ape infants below six years of age being outperformed by both juvenile/adolescent and adult apes.