Study Shows Chimps Capable Of Premeditated Actions

March 10, 2009

Sweden (ChattahBox) – A study done by Lund University is giving us all a chance to pull out those Planet of the Apes references.

According to Mathias Osvath, observations done on a chimp over the course of several years has given the first real evidence of premeditated actions in animals.

The study was done by watching a male chimp that has a tendency to throw stones at zoo visitors. Rather then him finding and throwing the rocks when he sees people coming, the chimp gathers stones, and creates symmetrical disks to throw at people who come much later.

“These observations convincingly show that our fellow apes do consider the future in a very complex way,” Osvath said.

“It implies that they have a highly developed consciousness, including life-like mental simulations of potential events. They most probably have an ‘inner world’ like we have when reviewing past episodes of our lives or thinking of days to come. When wild chimps collect stones or go out to war, they probably plan this in advance. I would guess that they plan much of their everyday behavior.”

This is the first time researchers have really been able to distinguish actions by chimps as meeting future needs, rather then present ones.

“I think that wild chimpanzees might be even better at planning as they probably rely on it for their daily survival,” Osvath also theorizes.

Source: Cell Press


Comments

One Response to “Study Shows Chimps Capable Of Premeditated Actions”

  1. David on June 4th, 2009 12:11 am

    As much as I’d like to think that chimps can envision the short-term future as mentioned, the evidence isn’t much more convincing than any other evidence of supposedly premeditated actions, such as the observations made by Goodall or De Waal on power take-overs.
    You can’t really be certain that this chimp gathers the stones just so he can throw them at the visitors afterwards. The gathering of stones and sistematic creation of symmetrical disks might just be coincidental to the throws. Is it a strong evidence that the chimp thinks ahead of time? It might be. But we can’t be certain that that’s what he’s doing there. The only way you could be completely sure that he was picking up stones and making those disks so he could throw them at people later is to have the chimp himself tell you that, by some sort of language (probably sign language).
    Maybe this chimp is fascinated by stones and gets aggravated when visitors come. Then, remembering where he last saw stones, grabs them from his stash to attack. That observation is just as plausible as the one that says he thinks ahead and gathers ammunition for later. Both are based on the same observation, which is: the chimp gathers stones and the chimp throws stones at visitors. That’s the only certain truth here. But the one way to really know why would be to get inside the chimp’s mind. And to do that, you’d need him to tell you what he was thinking at the time through some sort of comprehensible language.
    Studying animal behaviour is tricky… All you can ever do is collect evidence and, based on evidence and statistics, come up with an explanation, which can always come very close to the truth (something like 99,9999999% true), but will never be completely certain.

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