American Journal of Physical Anthropology Volume 138, Issue 3, pages 274-285

Dynamic in-hand movements in adult and young juvenile chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

Jessica Crast, Dorothy Fragaszy, Misato Hayashi, Tetsuro Matsuzawa

Abstract

Descriptions of manual function in nonhuman primates have largely focused on static precision and power grasping (as first defined by Napier,1956), while identification and description of dynamic manual function are rare and incomplete. Here, we describe several forms of in-hand movements used by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) when manipulating small objects. In-hand movements are defined as the movement of an object within one hand via manipulation of the digits. We presented adult and young juvenile chimpanzees (ages 5-29 years) with a task that required inserting small objects through correspondingly shaped cutouts in a transparent Plexiglas panel. While attempting to insert the objects through the cutouts, the subjects used at least two forms of in-hand movements to change their grip on the object for more precise alignment. We describe in detail the in-hand movements they used and the variability observed in form and execution among the subjects. In general, the adult subjects used in-hand movements more frequently and used a wider variety of forms than did the young juvenile subjects, suggesting that in-hand movements are in the process of fine-tuning around the age of 5 years in chimpanzees. The dexterity exhibited by the adults, however, shows that the neuromuscular and morphological requirements for relatively complex digital manipulation are present in the adult chimpanzee.

Keywords

manual dexterity, in-hand movements, object manipulation

Crast J, Fragaszy D, Hayashi M, Matsuzawa T (2009) Dynamic in-hand movements in adult and young juvenile chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). American Journal of Physical Anthropology Volume 138, Issue 3, pages 274-285 , doi: 10.1002/ajpa.20925