Acquisition of predator knowledge from alarm calls via one-trial social learning in monkeys

Julián León*, Constance Thiriau, Clémentine Bodin, Catherine Crockford, Klaus Zuberbühler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


How do animals learn to classify the world and what is the role of social learning during this process? Here, we show that young sooty mangabeys, Cercocebus atys, of Taï Forest, Côte d’Ivoire, learn to rapidly classify an unfamiliar predator by attending to others’ alarm calls and that such knowledge is retained over long periods. We experimentally exposed subjects to chimeric predator models with both snake- and leopard-like features, combined with playbacks of conspecific snake (N=12) or leopard alarms (N=13). Adults classified the chimeras as non-threatening but for juveniles, we found that one single alarm call exposure was sufficient to allocate the chimera to the snake or leopard category, suggesting plausibility judgments in experienced adults. We then retested N=10 juveniles with the same models more than a year after their first experience and found that they continued to show their original response, indicating long-term retention of socially learned predator categorisation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104853
Number of pages13
Issue number9
Early online date12 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2022


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