Many social animals can discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar faces. Orangutans, however, lead a semisolitary life and spend much of the day alone. As such, they may be less adept at recognizing conspecifics and are a good model for determining how social structure influences the evolution of social cognition such as facial recognition. The present study is the first report of whether orangutans can distinguish among individual faces. We adopted a preferential looking method and found that orangutans used facial discrimination to identify known conspecifics. This suggests that frequent and intense social interaction is not necessary for facial discrimination, although our findings were limited by the small number of stimuli and the unequal numbers of male and female orangutans depicted in the stimuli. © 2013 Hanazuka.
Hanazuka, Y., Shimahara, N., Tokuda, Y., & Midorikawa, A. (2013). Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) remember old acquaintances. PLoS ONE, 8(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0082073