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    Previous primate research has demonstrated social learning related to accepting novel foods, but little evidence suggests social learning of food avoidance. Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)have been observed to shake their heads rapidly in response to sour and bitter stimuli. This study investigated whether this head-shaking behavior may have a social function. The experiment presented a performing lemur with two items of the same type of fruit, one of which had been manipulated to take on a sour flavor, and the other which was not manipulated and served as a control. The performer could taste each of the stimuli while an observing lemur had the opportunity to watch the performer's behavior from an adjacent enclosure. The observer was then presented with two stimuli with the same qualities. This study evaluated whether a preceding head-shaking reaction by the performer improved the success rate of the observer avoiding bitter stimuli to greater than chance. Our results reveal that following a head shake by the performer in response to the sour stimuli, observer avoidance of sour stimuli was statistically greater than chance, indicating that there may be social influences on food avoidance in this species. Further research should focus on confirming this effect and characterizing the full set of socially influential food reaction behaviors. © 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel.


    Samantha McLendon, Caroline R Amoroso. Social Influences on Food Avoidance in Lemur catta. Folia primatologica; international journal of primatology. 2020;91(6):622-629

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    PMID: 32726785

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