• There is no Other Monkey in the Mirror for Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi)

      Murray, Lindsay; Schaffner, Colleen; Aureli, Filippo; Amici, Federica; University of Chester, Adams State University, Universidad Veracruzana, Liverpool John Moores University, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (American Psychological Association, 2020-06-18)
      Mirror self-recognition (MSR), usually considered a marker of self-awareness, occurs in several species and may reflect a capacity that has evolved in small incremental steps. In line with research on human development and building on previous research adopting a gradualist framework, we categorized the initial mirror responses of naïve spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) according to four levels. We compared social, exploratory, contingent and self-exploratory responses to a mirror and faux mirror during three short trials. If spider monkeys respond as most monkey species, we predicted they would perform at level 0, mainly showing social behavior toward their mirror-image. However, because spider monkeys show enhancement of certain cognitive skills comparable to those of great ape species, we predicted that they would perform at level 1a (showing exploratory behavior) or 1b (showing contingent behavior). GLMMs revealed that monkeys looked behind and visually inspected the mirror significantly more in the mirror than the faux mirror condition. Although the monkeys engaged in contingent body movements at the mirror, this trend was not significant. Strikingly, they showed no social behaviors toward their mirror-image. We also measured self-scratching as an indicator of anxiety and found no differences in frequencies of self-scratching between conditions. Therefore, in contrast to most findings on other species, spider monkeys did not treat their image as another monkey during their initial exposure to the mirror. In fact, they reached at least level 1a within minutes of mirror exposure. These responses recommend spider monkeys as good candidates for further explorations into monkey self-recognition.