Chimpanzees hunt for fruit in online game to check navigation expertise


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


24 June 2022

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A chimpanzee at Leipzig Zoo

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Chimpanzees in a zoo have been educated to make use of a touchscreen to navigate a digital setting and hunt down objects. Research like this might assist us be taught extra about how our shut kin discover their method round within the jungle.

“There’s lots 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 in regards to the navigation of most primate species.” That is largely as a result of chimpanzees are tough to trace within the wild, Allritz says. “Primates are quick and so they would possibly undergo foliage, which is tough to observe,” he says.

Over a number of weeks, Allritz and his colleagues educated 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 easy methods 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 examine, Allritz says.

Testing chimpanzees in digital environments may give researchers a greater thought about why they like sure routes within the wild over others. “Realizing what sort of journey routes chimpanzees usually resolve might help us develop pc simulations that may estimate the form and dimension of house ranges that have to be protected,” Allritz says.

Within the first experiment, the chimpanzees tried a number of instances to seek out the identical tree from the identical place to begin. Within the second experiment, they began from a unique place within the digital setting. The crew wished to see if the animals may nonetheless navigate to the tree with a purpose to gather the digital fruit.

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

Allritz says the examine was finally about proving that chimpanzees may work together with a digital setting that appeared 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 examine chimpanzees in a method that may’t be executed within the wild. “So typically I feel that captive primate work may be very worthwhile,” she says.

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

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