Capuchins do cooperate: the advantage of an intuitive task.
We used a cooperative pulling task to examine proximate aspects of cooperation in captive brown capuchin monkeys, Cebus apella. Specifically, our goal was to determine whether capuchins can learn the contingency between their partner's participation in a task and its successful completion. We examined whether the monkeys visually monitored their partners and adjusted pulling behaviour according to their partner's presence. Results on five same-sex pairs of adults indicate that (1) elimination of visual contact between partners significantly decreased success, (2) subjects glanced at their partners significantly more in cooperative tests than in control tests in which no partner-assistance was needed, and (3) they pulled at significantly higher rates when their partner was present rather than absent. Therefore, in contrast to a previous report by Chalmeau et al. (1997, Animal Behaviour, 54, 1215-1225), cooperating capuchins do seem able to take the role of their partner into account. However, the type of task used may be an important factor affecting the level of coordination achieved. Copyright 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.