Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) detect strange body parts: an eye-tracking study

Abstract

This study investigated chimpanzee body representation by testing whether chimpanzees detect strangeness in body parts. We tested six chimpanzees with edited chimpanzee body pictures in eye-tracking tasks. The target body parts were arms or legs. For either target, there were four conditions: “normal” condition as control, where all bodies were normal; “misplaced” condition, where one arm or one leg was misplaced to an incorrect body location in each picture; “replaced by a chimpanzee part” condition, where one arm or one leg was replaced by a chimpanzee leg or arm, respectively, in its original place in each picture; and “replaced by a human part” condition, where one arm or one leg was replaced by a human arm or leg in each picture. Compared to the looking times toward the normal parts, chimpanzees had significantly longer looking times toward the human arms or legs. The looking times toward the misplaced parts were also longer than the normal parts, but the difference just failed to meet significance. These results indicate more interests toward strange body parts, compared to typical parts, suggesting that chimpanzees might have a body representation that is sufficiently sensitive to detect these aspects of strangeness.