Orangutans also have distinct artistic styles! News article for children

The artwork was created by five orangutans at Tama Zoological Park in Japan (Photo credit: Tama Zoo)

To a casual observer, the artwork in the image above may appear to be the scribbles of a toddler or, as is the case here, of orangutans. However, a new study by French scientists has found that the apparent Random the patterns highlight the primate artists’ separate style and ability, and maybe even state of mind.

Cedric Sueur, a primatologist at the Institut universitaire de France, thought to take a closer look at the works of the great apes after noticing his young daughter scribble “as if that made sense.” For their study, the team decided to focus on orangutans, with whom we share 97% of DNA. They contacted the Tama Zoological Park in Japan, whose resident orangutans are encouraged draw as part of their enrichment Activities.

Kiki, a 10-year-old orangutan, was a minimalist. (Tama Zoo)

The team received 1,400 pencils masterpieces created by five orangutans between 2006 and 2016. A majority – 1,299 – were made by Molly, a Bornean orangutan who dabbled in art at the age of 54. However, the great ape, who died in 2011, made up for the late departure by completing more than 1,500 drawings in just five years. Molly’s babysitter records showed that she “took a long time to draw,” says Sueur. “The others would finish their compositions very quickly, but she would work on hers for an hour or more at a time.”

The 793 works selected for the study understood similar basic patterns, described by researchers as curls, circles and “fan patterns”. However, there was important differences in styles. For example, Molly pressed the pencils less and used a larger variety more hits than other orangutans. Meanwhile, 10-year-old great ape Kiki seemed to prefer a minimalist Color palette and pressed harder on the pencils to draw.

An orangutan named Molly loved to use green for her artwork in summer and winter (Credit: Tama Zoo)

A separate analysis of Molly’s drawings alone revealed other interesting knowledge. The team noticed that their drawings seemed reflect his day experience. For example, the artwork created after a group of elementary school children visited was more vibrant and complex than the ones she did previous two days. Sueur and his team speculate the visit may have motivated Molly to draw more abundantly. The primate also seemed prefer using purple pencils in spring and green pencils in summer and winter.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Animals November 9, 2021, attribute the differences in the paintings at personality and even different cognitive capabilities. They hope that the orangutan drawings – which look like those of young children – can provide clues about the evolution of human art.

Resources: mdpi.com, .bbc.co.uk, tuftsdaily.com, science.org

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