International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 413–434 | Cite as

Hand preferences in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), bonobos (Pan paniscus), and orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) in food-reaching and other daily activities

  • Montserrat Colell
  • M. Dolores Segarra
  • Jordi Sabater Pi


We observed 36 captive great apes [31 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes),2 bonobos (Pan paniscus), and3 orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus)]reaching for items of food and engaging in other spontaneous behaviors. We consider circumstantial factors that could influence the preferred choice of one hand or the other. Most of the subjects (81%) showed a significant hand preference in food reaching that is consistent in directionality with the hand preferences that they showed during other spontaneous behaviors. The results show that the postural adjustment required when carrying out an action seems to influence directly the expression of manual laterality in individuals. Moreover, the results indicate the possible existence of a relationship between maturational factors and persistence in directionality of hand preferences.

Key words

hand preference handedness laterality Pan Pongo 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Montserrat Colell
    • 1
  • M. Dolores Segarra
    • 1
  • Jordi Sabater Pi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology, Faculty of PsychologyBarcelona UniversityBarcelonaSpain

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