Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Individual Recognition

1. ability to recognize conspecific individuals; among the vertebrates this is most evolved in birds and mammals and is especially well developed in primates. Individual recognition is a requirement for social groups and the hierarchies contained within; it is important for kin recognition, restriction of altruism to relatives, and inbreeding avoidance. Individual recognition in primates occurs through visual characteristics, vocalizations, and olfactory cues (especially in prosimians).

2. ability of primatologists to recognize individual animals that they work with. This is done by various means, including individual characteristics of the animal or extraneous markers placed on the animal by the observer.

See marking.

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