Individual recognition is considered to have been fundamental in the evolution of complex social systems and is thought to be a widespread ability throughout the animal kingdom. Although robust evidence for individual recognition remains limited, recent experimental paradigms that examine cross-modal processing have demonstrated individual recognition in a range of captive non-human animals. It is now highly relevant to test whether cross-modal individual recognition exists within wild populations and thus examine how it is employed during natural social interactions. We address this question by testing audio–visual cross-modal individual recognition in wild African lions (Panthera leo) using an expectancy-violation paradigm. When presented with a scenario where the playback of a loud-call (roaring) broadcast from behind a visual block is incongruent with the conspecific previously seen there, subjects responded more strongly than during the congruent scenario where the call and individual matched. These findings suggest that lions are capable of audio–visual cross-modal individual recognition and provide a useful method for studying this ability in wild populations.
- Received April 17, 2016.
- Accepted July 29, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.