Prey capture efficiency in brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) is influenced by sex and corpus callosum morphology

Kaitlyn Hellner-Burris, Courtney A. Sobieski, Valerie R. Gilbert, Kimberley A. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The diet of capuchin monkeys consists largely of fruits, but these monkeys commonly prey upon insects and other invertebrates as well as vertebrates such as lizards, birds, and fish. Capturing small fast-moving prey requires the ability to process complex visuospatial information such as motion detection, shape, and pursuit. Here we report the results of an experimental investigation into whether capuchins display sex differences in prey capture efficiency, and whether these differences are associated with the morphology of regions of the corpus callosum (CC) involved in visuospatial ability. We examined the prey capture behavior of seven capuchin subjects (four female, three male) in the laboratory by providing subjects opportunities to fish. Additionally, we obtained structural magnetic resonance images from these subjects to determine if spatial-ability was related to CC anatomy. Over 30 fishing trials, we recorded the number of prey capture attempts, success rate in capturing fish, and hand techniques used in these attempts. Males were significantly faster and more successful than females at capturing prey. In addition, males had smaller total CC:brain ratios than females. Males displayed a left hand bias, as well as significant unimanual usage, whereas females displayed no significant preference for hand usage. Individual capture times were correlated with total CC:brain ratio. Taken together, our results suggest a relationship between prey capture efficiency, sex, and the degree of brain lateralization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-508
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain lateralization
  • Cebus apella
  • Corpus callosum morphology
  • Prey capture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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