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Chimpanzees hunt for fruit in video game to test navigation skills

Testing how chimpanzees navigate in digital environments may assist researchers perceive why they like sure routes within the wild over others


24 June 2022

A chimpanzee at Leipzig Zoo

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Chimpanzees in a zoo have been skilled to make use of a touchscreen to navigate a digital setting and search out objects. Research like this might assist us study extra about how our shut relations discover their method round within the jungle.

“There’s plenty of analysis on the navigation of birds and bees,” says Matthias Allritz on the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “However we all know little or no concerning the navigation of most primate species.” That is largely as a result of chimpanzees are troublesome to trace within the wild, Allritz says. “Primates are quick and so they may undergo foliage, which is troublesome to observe,” he says.

Over a number of weeks, Allritz and his colleagues skilled six chimpanzees at Leipzig Zoo to make use of a touchscreen and play a online game by which they needed to navigate to a tree to discover a piece of fruit. Once they did this, they have been rewarded with an actual fruit. The chimpanzees got 10 minutes at a time with the sport till they realized learn how to transfer within the digital setting. The primates may refuse to participate at any time and all had used touchscreens beforehand. Not one of the animals have been harmed within the research, Allritz says.

Testing chimpanzees in digital environments may give researchers a greater concept about why they like sure routes within the wild over others. “Realizing what sort of journey routes chimpanzees sometimes determine will help us develop laptop simulations that may estimate the form and dimension of residence ranges that should be protected,” Allritz says.

Within the first experiment, the chimpanzees tried a number of instances to search out the identical tree from the identical start line. Within the second experiment, they began from a unique place within the digital setting. The workforce needed to see if the animals may nonetheless navigate to the tree as a way to accumulate the digital fruit.

With apply, all six chimps may full each duties. However solely three improved the effectivity of their routes with apply within the first job. “There might be many causes for this,” Allritz says. “Some chimpanzees might have been higher at recognising the landmark or they could merely have been much less clumsy in utilizing the touchscreen controls.”

Allritz says the research was in the end about proving that chimpanzees may work together with a digital setting that seemed like a real-world setting. “The chimpanzees may have simply walked round in circles,” he says.

Jill Pruetz on the College of Texas says such experiments allow us to research chimpanzees in a method that may’t be performed within the wild. “So basically I believe that captive primate work could be very worthwhile,” she says.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm4754

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