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Abstract Domestication is a process that involves the interaction of human with animals in which the genotype of the domesticated species adapts to the conditions provided by humans. The number of domesticated species is very small compared to all animal diversity implying that there are genetic obstacles to domesticate a species. In addition, domesticated animals share several characteristics that differentiate them from their wild relatives in terms of behaviour and morphology. These similarities can be due to similar selective forces acting during domestication and also because the same genetic components were affected during domestication. With the aim to identify which are the key genes that are involved in the domestication of several species and why some species were never domesticated, I reviewed several aspects of domesticatio...
This thesis describes studies into the rat as an animal model for attachment, along the lines of Bowlby's attachment theory. First, the relation between attachment and human psychopathology is reviewed. The conclusion is that psychopathology is more frequent in insecure attached persons and that there is a relationship between specific types of insecure attachment and specific types of psychiatric disorders. Next, a reinterpretation of the literature on social preference experiments in rodents is given from an attachment theory point of view. Rodents distinguish their own mother by olfaction and prefer her to other conspecifics from birth. This preference also develops for non-natural odours that are offered in the presence of the mother. The pharmacological literature shows that oxytocin is a major positive influence on the developmen...
Both in humans and group-living animals, individuals affiliate more with some individuals than others. Human friendships have long been acknowledged, and recently scientists studying animal behaviour have started using the term friendship for social bonds between animals. Yet, while biologists describe friends as social tools to enhance fitness, social scientists argue that human friendships are unconditional. Therefore, I investigate whether these different descriptions reflect true differences in human and animal friendships or whether they are a by-product of different research approaches: namely social scientist focussing on proximate and biologists on ultimate explanations. In this thesis I studied friendships of long-tailed and rhesus macaques. I defined as friends those dyads with individuals that were in close contact and groom...
Intelligence is one of the main features proposed to differ substantially between humans and other animals. Therefore, crucial for understanding human evolution is knowledge of the evolution of human intelligence. Complex social interactions may have selected for advanced cognitive capacities in primates and humans. One hallmark of human intelligence is Theory of Mind, the capacity to understand the mental states of others. Although non-human primates may not exhibit full-blown Theory of Mind, they may possess capacities required for or underlying Theory of Mind. One important capacity is Visual Perspective Taking, the ability to understand what other individuals can see. Although this capacity is found in apes, its presence in monkeys is much debated. In this thesis I study whether VPT or its prerequisites are present in monkey s...
Speech is a human hallmark. However, its evolution is little understood. It remains largely unknown which features of the call communication of our closest relatives – great apes – may have constituted speech evolutionary feedstock. In this study, I investigate the extent to which speech building blocks can be found in orangutan call communication. Orangutans represent the oldest great ape lineage but early and recent studies indicate they represent a promising model species in this endeavor. I investigate orangutan call communication in natural(istic) conditions recognizing the calls individuals actually produce. Instead of seeking (to teach) human words, I identify speech features potentially present in orangutan call communication in the absence of full-blown speech. Moreover, I borrow terminology from linguistics and semiotics (soc...
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