Japanese researchers pitted young chimps against human adults in two tests of short-term memory, and overall, the chimps won.
That challenges the belief of many people, including many scientists, that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions,” said researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University.
Chimps choose more rationally than humans
Published: Oct. 8, 2007 at 2:07 PM
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LEIPZIG, Germany, Oct. 8 (UPI) — German researchers have demonstrated chimpanzees make choices that protect their self-interest more consistently than do humans.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig studied the chimp’s choices by using an economic game with two players. In the game, a human or chimpanzee who receives something of value can offer to share it with another.
If the proposed share is rejected, neither player gets anything.
Humans typically make offers close to 50 percent of the reward. They also reject as unfair offers of significantly less than half of the reward, even though this choice means they get nothing.
The study, however, showed chimpanzees reliably made offers of substantially less than 50 percent, and accepted offers of any size, no matter how small.
The researchers concluded chimpanzees do not show a willingness to make fair offers and reject unfair ones. In this way, they protect their self interest and are unwilling to pay a cost to punish someone they perceive as unfair.
The study appeared in the Oct. 5 issue of the journal Science.
“People often act on behalf of others. They do so without immediate personal gain, at cost to themselves, and even toward unfamiliar individuals. Many researchers have claimed that such altruism emanates from a species-unique psychology not found in humans’ closest living evolutionary relatives, such as the chimpanzee. In favor of this view, the few experimental studies on altruism in chimpanzees have produced mostly negative results. In contrast, we report experimental evidence that chimpanzees perform basic forms of helping in the absence of rewards spontaneously and repeatedly toward humans and conspecifics. In two comparative studies, semi–free ranging chimpanzees helped an unfamiliar human to the same degree as did human infants, irrespective of being rewarded (experiment 1) or whether the helping was costly (experiment 2). In a third study, chimpanzees helped an unrelated conspecific gain access to food in a novel situation that required subjects to use a newly acquired skill on behalf of another individual. These results indicate that chimpanzees share crucial aspects of altruism with humans, suggesting that the roots of human altruism may go deeper than previous experimental evidence suggested.”
Citation: Warneken F, Hare B, Melis AP, Hanus D, Tomasello M (2007) Spontaneous Altruism by Chimpanzees and Young Children. PLoS Biol 5(7): e184 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050184
Received: February 8, 2007; Accepted: May 14, 2007; Published: June 26, 2007
A David Attenborough documentary from the 1980s.
It shows a group of chimps hunting down a monkey and then tearing it apart and ate it.
23 April 2007 NewScientist.com Bob Holmes
Nepotism is known to be important in chimpanzee society, but male chimps’ ability to cooperate extends beyond family connections, new research reveals.
This extra level of sophistication is yet another way in which the social behaviour of chimps parallels that of humans.
Kevin Langergraber, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, US, and colleagues recorded alliances, meat-sharing and other cooperative behaviour among 41 male chimps in Kibale National Park, Uganda.
The team also genotyped each animal to measure how closely they were related. Over a period of seven years, and over 5000 hours of observations, they observed 753 aggressive coalitions – where they cooperated to fight enemies – and 421 instances of meat sharing.
Chimps who shared a mother were far more likely to cooperate with each other. In contrast, there was no evidence that the same applied to chimps with a shared father. This is probably because fathers do not stay with their offspring, so a chimp has no easy way to recognise his paternal brothers.
However, since maternal brothers were rare in this population, most of the cooperating pairs were unrelated or only distantly related.
Extensive cooperation among non-relatives suggests that chimps do it for selfish reasons, with the expectation that favours will be reciprocated, says Langergraber. Human societies use cooperation with similar motives – another behaviour shared with our primate cousins.
Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0611449104)
Chimps are intelligent creatures. They pass the mirror test and so possess self-consciousness. I would argue there is a significant difference in moral status between animals with self-consciousness, and animals without. This does not mean that we can do whatever we want to those without, but the interests of those animals with self-consciousness are more weighty.
Court to rule if chimp has human rights Sunday April 1, 2007 The Observer
He recognises himself in the mirror, plays hide-and-seek and breaks into fits of giggles when tickled. He is also our closest evolutionary cousin.
A group of world leading primatologists argue that this is proof enough that Hiasl, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, deserves to be treated like a human. In a test case in Austria, campaigners are seeking to ditch the ‘species barrier’ and have taken Hiasl’s case to court. If Hiasl is granted human status – and the rights that go with it – it will signal a victory for other primate species and unleash a wave of similar cases.
Hiasl’s story began in 1982 when, as a baby, he was taken from Sierra Leone and smuggled into Austria in a crate with seven other chimps destined for a vivisection laboratory east of Vienna. But customs officers seized the crate and Hiasl was sent to an animal sanctuary. Now the sanctuary faces bankruptcy and Hiasl could be sent to the Baxter vivisection laboratory after all. Seeking to save Hiasl, who likes painting, kissing visitors and watching wildlife programmes, an Austrian businessman has donated Â£3,400 towards his upkeep.
However, unless Hiasl has a legal guardian who can manage the money it will go to the receivers. As only humans have a right to legal guardians, his campaigners say it is necessary for Hiasl’s survival to prove that he is one of us. Primatologists and experts – from the world’s most famous primate campaigner, Jane Goodall, to Professor Volker Sommer, a renowned wild chimp expert at University College London – will give evidence in the case, which is due to come to court in Vienna within the next few months.