background preloader

Primate Intelligence

Facebook Twitter

Monkeys Can Think about Thinking, Too. This Bonobo Starts Fires And Cooks His Own Food. This bonobo named “Kanzi” can start a fire and cook food on his own.

This Bonobo Starts Fires And Cooks His Own Food

Kanzi is a thirty-five year old bonobo (a cousin to the common chimpanzee). He was born in captivity and is currently a resident at the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative in Des Moines, Iowa. The center is focused on research and conservation projects for Great Apes Worldwide, and works with Kanzi for various behavioral studies. Image: Jeroen Kransen Kanzi has learned to gather twigs and branches, arrange them into a pile, light a match, and build his own fire. He has also been recorded roasting hamburgers on a pan over the fire. Dr. When he’s done with the fire, he pours water over it to extinguish the flames. He’s more than just a chef, though. Together with the common chimpanzee, bonobos are our closest living relatives. Video: 15 Obscure (and Hilarious) Animal Group Names. What happen when you give one monkey cucumbers but grapes for another monkey. For The First Time, Chimpanzees Are Making A Fashion Statement. It’s a trend that’s taken a troop of chimpanzees by storm: a blade of grass dangling from an ear.

For The First Time, Chimpanzees Are Making A Fashion Statement

The "grass-in-ear behavior," as scientists have termed it, seems to be one of the first times that chimpanzees have created a tradition with no discernible purpose -- a primate fashion statement, in other words. There’s no doubt that chimpanzees have culture, as different chimp groups will use unique tools: to groom, to crack open nuts, to fish for termites. [YouTube] But, according to a study in the journal Animal Cognition, chimpanzee culture now includes something that seems altogether arbitrary: ear accoutrements. “Our observation is quite unique in the sense that nothing seems to be communicated by it,” says study author Edwin van Leeuwen, a primate expert at the Max Planck Institute in The Netherlands. Lydia Luncz, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, who was not involved with the research, agrees. [Images courtesy of van Leeuwen, et al.] Evidence of non-human primates whispering. Planning of the Apes: Zoo Chimp Plots Rock Attacks.

Think people are the only ones who can plan for the future?

Planning of the Apes: Zoo Chimp Plots Rock Attacks

You may change your mind when you hear the story of Santino the chimpanzee, whose premeditated attacks on zoo visitors are described today in Current Biology. When Santino was first transferred to Sweden's Furuvik Zoo in 1983 at the age of five, he was relatively calm and passive, lead study author Mathias Osvath, a postdoctoral student in cognitive sciences at Lund University in Sweden, tells

But by the time the primate reached sexual maturity at age 17, he had become so aggressive that he killed the only other male chimp at the zoo. (Oddly, Santino had saved the life of his comrade just five years earlier by untangling a play rope that had wrapped around his neck.) It was shortly after this fatal attack that zookeepers began to notice that Santino had developed a habit of throwing stones at zoo visitors, who were safely situated behind a five-foot- (1.5-meter-) high fence. Self-Recognition in Apes. I Spy a Cat in a Tree. Peanut Trick. 84 Chimps Show Altruistic Streak.

For years, lacking evidence to the contrary, most scientists had assumed that altruism is unique to humans.

84 Chimps Show Altruistic Streak

Sure, other primates groom each other and even share food, but this kind of helping could be chalked up to selfish motives—either to benefit close relatives who share their genes or to get an immediate reward. In June, however, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology reported the first experimental evidence of spontaneous altruism in chimpanzees, toward both nonrelated chimps and humans. In one experiment done with semifree-ranging chimps in Uganda, a chimp struggled to open a door locked by a chain. The researchers wanted to see if a second chimp would release the chain to help the first get food. Three-quarters of the time, the chimps in a position to help did just that. “The main finding is that humans and chimpanzees share altruistic tendencies,” Warneken says. And that tells us something about human nature.

Go to next story: 85.