Recognizing Facial Cues: Individual Discrimination by Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta)
Faces are one of the most salient classes of stimuli involved in social communication. Three experiments compared face-recognition abilities in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). In the face-matching task, the chimpanzees matched identical photographs of conspecifics' faces on Trial 1, and the rhesus monkeys did the same after 4 generalization trials. In the individual-recognition task, the chimpanzees matched 2 different photographs of the same individual after 2 trials, and the rhesus monkeys generalized in fewer than 6 trials. The feature-masking task showed that the eyes were the most important cue for individual recognition. Thus, chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys are able to use facial cues to discriminate unfamiliar conspecifics. Although the rhesus monkeys required many trials to learn the tasks, this is not evidence that faces are not as important social stimuli for them as for the chimpanzees.