Visual kin recognition in nonhuman primates: (Pan troglodytes and Macaca mulatta): inbreeding avoidance or male distinctiveness

Bibliographic Collection: 
CARTA-Inspired Publication
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Parr, LA; Heintz, M; Lonsdorf, E; Wroblewski, E
Year of Publication: 2010
Journal: J Comp Psychol
Volume: 124
Number: 4
Pagination: 343-50
Date Published: Nov
Publication Language: eng
ISBN Number: 0021-9940
Accession Number: 21090888

Faces provide important information about identity, age, and even kinship. A previous study in chimpanzees reported greater similarity between the faces of mothers and sons compared with mothers and daughters, or unrelated individuals. This was interpreted as an inbreeding avoidance mechanism where females, the dispersing gender, should avoid mating with any male that resembles their mother. Alternatively, male faces may be more distinctive than female faces, biasing attention toward males. To test these hypotheses, chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys matched conspecifics' faces of unfamiliar mothers and fathers with their sons and daughters. Results showed no evidence of male distinctiveness, rather a cross-gender effect was found: chimpanzees were better matching moms with sons and fathers with daughters. Rhesus monkeys, however, showed an overwhelming bias toward male-distinctiveness. They were faster to learn male faces, performed better on father-offspring and parent-son trials, and were best matching fathers with sons. This suggests that for the rhesus monkey, inbreeding avoidance involves something other than facial phenotypic matching but that among chimpanzees, the visual recognition of facial similarities may play an important role.

Author Address:

Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences andYerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Rd., Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.