Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract According toFiedler (1956) the pygmy chimpanzee is considered to be a separate species of the pongidae. Therefore, our investigations with a young female pygmy chimpanzee had two special aims. First, we hoped to collect some facts concerning the transferability of the experiments ofPremack (1971) within the great apes; he investigated the language skills of a common chimpanzee. Besides, we wanted to test the intellectual abilities of this littel known primate species. Pieces of wood, differing in color and shape, were used as symbols. At both sides, there was a magnet to hang them on an iron board. The subject had to choose between two or more signs out of three groups: food symbols, activity symbols and quantity symbols. The hanging up of one, later of two correlated symbols was followed by a special event for each of them. There is high concordance between the subject’s preferring of events and its preferring of symbols. The correlation-coefficient for food and food signs is as high as 0.95. Nearly without mistake is the subject’s use of the much/little signs in connection with the food symbols. The rate of error in general is between 10–20% and is in accordance to the corresponding results mentioned byPremack (1971). The way the subject learned the meaning of the symbols changed from slow to sudden comprehension. In general, these results provide further evidence of the high intelligence level of pygmy chimpanzees.
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