When it comes to female orangutans and their mothers it really is a case of ‘I wanna be like you’. Like humans, immature orangutans must accumulate a huge set of skills during the early years of their lives by watching and imitating the behaviour of their elders. Now, researchers at the Max-Planck Institute of Animal Behavior have found that female orangutans are fixated on their mothers as they grow up whereas males tend to gravitate towards individuals from other social groups. The preference is possibly due to the differences in adult orangutans’ patterns of behaviour, with females tending to stay in the areas where they were born and settle in the same home range as their mothers, and males tending to seek out other habitats, the researchers say. Read more about orangutans: “In our study we showed that immature orangutans show sex-specific attentional preferences when observing role models other than their mothers,” lead researcher Dr Caroline Schuppli . “Our results also provide evidence that these biases result in different learning outcomes and may thus be an important way for orangutans to learn sex-specific foraging patterns. All in all, these results highlight the importance of fine-grained social inputs during development […]

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