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Animal Innovation - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Animal Innovation

Simon M. Reader and Kevin N. Laland


In 1953 a young female Japanese macaque called Imo began washing sweet potatoes before eating them, presumably to remove dirt and sand grains. Soon other monkeys had adopted this behaviour, and potato washing gradually spread throughout the troop. When, three years after her first invention, Imo devised a second novel foraging behaviour, that of separating wheat from sand by throwing mixed handfuls into water and scooping out the floating grains, she was almost instantly heralded around the world as a ‘monkey genius’. Imo is probably the most celebrated of animal innovators. In fact, many anim ... More

Keywords: Japanese macaque, Imo, foraging behaviour, animal innovators, behaviour patterns, behavioural flexibility, avian brain evolution, primate brain evolution

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2003 Print ISBN-13: 9780198526223
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198526223.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Simon M. Reader, editor
Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Kevin N. Laland, editor
Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, Scotland

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Definitions and Key Questions

Chapter 1 Animal Innovation: An Introduction

Simon M. Reader, and Kevin N. Laland

Comparative and Evolutionary Analyses of Innovation

Chapter 5 Is Innovation in Bird Song Adaptive?

Peter J. B. Slater, and Robert F. Lachlan

Patterns and Causes of Animal Innovation

Chapter 7 Experimental Studies of Innovation in the Guppy

Kevin N. Laland, and Yfke Van Bergen

Innovation, Intelligence, and Cognition

Chapter 11 Novelty in Deceit

Richard W. Byrne

Human Innovation


End Matter