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Systematic mapping of developmental milestones in wild chimpanzees

Bruendl, AC, Tkaczynski, PJ, Kohou, GN, Boesch, C, Wittig, RM and Crockford, C (2020) Systematic mapping of developmental milestones in wild chimpanzees. Developmental Science, 24 (1). ISSN 1363-755X

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12988 (Published version)


Postnatal development is protracted relative to lifespan in many primates, including modern humans (Homo sapiens), facilitating the acquisition of key motor, communication and social skills that can maximize fitness later in life. Nevertheless, it remains unclear what evolutionary drivers led to extended immature periods. While the developmental milestone literature is well established in humans, insight we can gain from one-species models is limited. By comparing the timing of relatable developmental milestones in a closely related species, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), we can gain further understanding of the evolution of such an extended developmental phase. To date, few studies have specifically attempted to estimate developmental milestones in a manner comparable to the human literature, and existing studies lack sufficient sample sizes to estimate which milestones are more plastic with higher inter-individual variation in the timing of their emergence. Here, we describe the emergence of gross motor, fine motor, social interaction and communication traits from a longitudinal sample of 19 wild chimpanzee infants (8 females and 11 males), Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. Gross motor traits emerged at a mean of 4 months, communication traits at 12 months, social interaction traits at 14 months and fine motor traits at 15 months, with later emerging milestones demonstrating greater inter-individual variation in the timing of the emergence. This pattern of milestone emergence is broadly comparable to observations in humans, suggesting selection for a prolonged infantile phase and that sustained skills development has a deep evolutionary history, with implications for theories on primate brain development.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social Sciences; Psychology, Developmental; Psychology, Experimental; Psychology; communication; fine and gross motor; life-history theory; ontogeny; Pan troglodytes; social; LIFE-HISTORY EVOLUTION; BRAIN SIZE; GROWTH-RATES; BEHAVIOR; INFANTS; ATTENTION; COGNITION; CONFLICT; ONTOGENY; WALKING; Animals; Humans; Pan troglodytes; Cote d'Ivoire; Female; Pan troglodytes ; communication; fine and gross motor; life-history theory; ontogeny; social; Animals; Cote d'Ivoire; Female; Humans; Pan troglodytes; 1701 Psychology; 1702 Cognitive Sciences; 2004 Linguistics; Developmental & Child Psychology
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Wiley
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2023 13:24
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2023 13:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1111/desc.12988
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18875
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