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Title: Physical cognition in great apes : planning and object compliance
Author: Tecwyn, Emma Carolan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 9265
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2014
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It has been suggested that great ape cognitive abilities evolved in response to challenges in the physical environment related to large body size. As wild orangutans travel through the forest canopy compliant branches deform under their weight, which increases the size of gaps to be crossed and poses issues of safety and stability; yet they achieve safe and efficient locomotion. Wild orangutans also build structurally complex nests and select branches for nest-building on the basis of their compliant properties. Both of these behaviours suggest that orangutans (1) are able to consider alternative possible actions or to plan and execute appropriate sequences of actions; and (2) possess some knowledge of object compliance (flexibility). This thesis investigated these cognitive abilities in captive great apes (orangutans and bonobos) as well as human adults and children, by presenting individuals with novel problem-solving tasks (puzzle-boxes) and novel objects (locomotor supports) and observing their behavioural responses. Attempts were made to address previous issues associated with studying physical cognition in animals, and particular attention was paid to individual differences and the role of exploration when interpreting results. Studying cognitive abilities related to wild orangutan behaviour may have implications for the evolution of cognition in great apes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Q Science (General) ; QL Zoology