Jun 8, 2007

chimpanzees: the next next menace

Another in the "animals are smarter than you think" category:
Andrew Whiten at the University of St Andrews, UK, and colleagues taught individual chimpanzees one of two ways to solve complex foraging tasks, and observed how the different techniques spread across two sets of three groups. The chimps had to manipulate a combination of buttons, levers or discs to extract treats from cubes....

The cubes were then moved into the view of a second set of chimp groups, so they could observe their respective neighbours solving the tasks. The new groups learned the same techniques as demonstrated in the adjacent enclosure, and then passed their set of tricks on to a third group in another round of experiments.
Not to go all Charlton Heston here, but shouldn't we be a leeeetle bit worried about researchers who can influence chimps--for evil?

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