Color vision in Leontopithecus chrysomelas: A behavioral study

Daniel M A Pessoa, Eduardo S. Perini, Lívia S. Carvalho, Carlos Tomaz, Valdir F. Pessoa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


We assessed the color discriminations by golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) via a series of tasks involving a behavioral paradigm that maximizes the naturalness of the stimuli. The stimuli were pairs of Munsell color chips used in earlier experiments with human dichromats. We tested 3 male and 3 female monkeys with stimuli of random brightness values in order to assure that discriminations were based on color rather than brightness cues. Results indicate that each male and one female presented random performances for stimuli resembling hue conditions under which tamarins forage: oranges vs. greens. Two females exhibited discriminations consistent with allelic trichromacy. Findings indicate the presence of an M/L cone opsin polymorphism, a condition of most platyrrhines that is characterized by dichromatic and/or trichromatic females and dichromatic males. Interspecific differences in allelic frequency among lion tamarins raises the possibility that habitat fragmentation is affecting heterozygous frequencies, a trend that could impact tamarin foraging efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-158
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes

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