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Individual and setting differences in the hand preferences of chimpanzees ( Pan troglodytes ): A critical analysis and some alternative explanations

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Several recent papers have been critical at a theoretical and empirical level of the evidence of population-level right-handedness in chimpanzees and other great apes. For example, Palmer (2002) has recently argued that the evidence of population-level handedness in chimpanzees is weak because there are sampling biases in the data. McGrew and Marchant (1997) argue that all the evidence of right-handedness in apes is from captive animals and therefore the observed phenomenon has little ecological validity. In this paper, we address recent issues regarding the presentation and interpretation of other hand preference data and argue that chimpanzees are right-handed for some measures. We further argue that purported differences in hand use between wild and captive chimpanzees due to rearing environments are unfounded and we emphasise that more cooperative work between researchers working in captive and feral populations is needed to facilitate collection of data on common measures of hand preference.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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