Perspectives on object manipulation and action grammar for percussive actions in primates
The skill of object manipulation is a common feature of primates including humans, although there are species-typical patterns of manipulation. Object manipulation can be used as a comparative scale of cognitive development, focusing on its complexity. Nut cracking in chimpanzees has the highest hierarchical complexity of tool use reported in non-human primates. An analysis of the patterns of object manipulation in naive chimpanzees after nut-cracking demonstrations revealed the cause of difficulties in learning nut-cracking behaviour. Various types of behaviours exhibited within a nut-cracking context can be examined in terms of the application of problem-solving strategies, focusing on their basis in causal understanding or insightful intentionality. Captive chimpanzees also exhibit complex forms of combinatory manipulation, which is the precursor of tool use. A new notation system of object manipulation was invented to assess grammatical rules in manipulative actions. The notation system of action grammar enabled direct comparisons to be made between primates including humans in a variety of object-manipulation tasks, including percussive-tool use.