Chemical recognition of fruit ripeness in spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi).

Scientific reports

PubMedID: 26440380

Nevo O, Orts Garri R, Hernandez Salazar LT, Schulz S, Heymann EW, Ayasse M, Laska M. Chemical recognition of fruit ripeness in spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi). Sci Rep. 2015;514895.
Primates are now known to possess well-developed olfactory sensitivity and discrimination capacities that can play a substantial role in many aspects of their interaction with conspecifics and the environment. Several studies have demonstrated that olfactory cues may be useful in fruit selection. Here, using a conditioning paradigm, we show that captive spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) display high olfactory discrimination performance between synthetic odor mixtures mimicking ripe and unripe fruits of two wild, primate-consumed, Neotropical plant species. Further, we show that spider monkeys are able to discriminate the odor of ripe fruits from odors that simulate unripe fruits that become increasingly similar to that of ripe ones. These results suggest that the ability of spider monkeys to identify ripe fruits may not depend on the presence of any individual compound that mark fruit ripeness. Further, the results demonstrate that spider monkeys are able to identify ripe fruits even when the odor signal is accompanied by a substantial degree of noise.