Chimpanzees hunt for fruit in online game to check navigation abilities

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Testing how chimpanzees navigate in digital environments might assist researchers perceive why they like sure routes within the wild over others


24 June 2022

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A chimpanzee at Leipzig Zoo

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Chimpanzees in a zoo have been educated to make use of a touchscreen to navigate a digital surroundings and search out objects. Research like this might assist us study extra about how our shut family members discover their means round within the jungle.

“There’s numerous analysis on the navigation of birds and bees,” says Matthias Allritz on the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “However we all know little or no concerning the navigation of most primate species.” That is largely as a result of chimpanzees are troublesome to trace within the wild, Allritz says. “Primates are quick and so they would possibly undergo foliage, which is troublesome to observe,” he says.

Over a number of weeks, Allritz and his colleagues educated six chimpanzees at Leipzig Zoo to make use of a touchscreen and play a online game through which they needed to navigate to a tree to discover a piece of fruit. After they did this, they had been rewarded with an actual fruit. The chimpanzees got 10 minutes at a time with the sport till they realized find out how to transfer within the digital surroundings. The primates might refuse to participate at any time and all had used touchscreens beforehand. Not one of the animals had been harmed within the research, Allritz says.

Testing chimpanzees in digital environments might give researchers a greater concept about why they like sure routes within the wild over others. “Figuring out what sort of journey routes chimpanzees usually determine may also help us develop laptop simulations that may estimate the form and dimension of residence ranges that have to be protected,” Allritz says.

Within the first experiment, the chimpanzees tried a number of occasions to seek out the identical tree from the identical start line. Within the second experiment, they began from a distinct place within the digital surroundings. The crew wished to see if the animals might nonetheless navigate to the tree so as to accumulate the digital fruit.

With observe, all six chimps might full each duties. However solely three improved the effectivity of their routes with observe within the first activity. “There might be many causes for this,” Allritz says. “Some chimpanzees might have been higher at recognising the landmark or they could merely have been much less clumsy in utilizing the touchscreen controls.”

Allritz says the research was in the end about proving that chimpanzees might work together with a digital surroundings that seemed like a real-world setting. “The chimpanzees might have simply walked round in circles,” he says.

Jill Pruetz on the College of Texas says such experiments allow us to research chimpanzees in a means that may’t be accomplished within the wild. “So basically I feel that captive primate work may be very worthwhile,” she says.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm4754

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