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Researchers at the Duke Lemur Center are interested in how lemurs think. Because lemurs are part of the primate family tree that split off before monkeys and apes parted ways, research on lemur cognition can offer clues to how our earliest primate ancestors developed some of the mental abilities that humans have today. One group of researchers is studying numerical abilities in lemurs. Using a touchscreen computer that lemurs tap with their nose, they have found that lemurs can memorize lists of images, tap them out in the correct sequence, identify which is larger, even understand basic math. Another group of researchers has been exploring lemur social intelligence. In one study, they found that lemurs that live in larger groups make smarter thieves.

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Related Publications

Bray, J., et al. (2013). “Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) exploit information about what others can see but not what they can hear.” Animal Cognition.

Jones, S., et al. (2013). “Lemurs and macaques show similar numerical sensitivity.” Animal Cognition DOI 10.1007/s10071-013-0682-3.