Orangutans have distinct artistic styles too! Children’s news article

The artwork was created by five orangutans from Tama Zoological Park in Japan. (Tama Zoo)

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

Cedric Sueur, a primatologist at the Institut Universitaire de France, thought of taking a closer look at the artwork made by great apes after noticing his young daughter doodle “like that makes sense.” For their study, the team decided to focus on orangutans, with whom we share 97% of the DNA. They reached out to 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 (Credit: 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 started the art at the age of 54. However, the great ape, who died in 2011, made up for the late start by completing more than 1,500 drawings in just five years. Records from Molly’s babysitter showed she “took time to draw,” Sueur says. “The others were finishing their compositions very quickly, but she was working on hers for an hour or more at a time.”

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

An orangutan named Molly liked to use green for her artwork in both summer and winter. (Tama Zoo)

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

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

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