Chimps play like humans: Playful behavior of young chimps develops like that of children

Nov 16, 2011
This images shows a vigorous play session between two infant chimpanzees. The individual on the left is biting a foot of his playmate. Credit: Elisabetta Palagi

Playful behavior is widespread in mammals, and has important developmental consequences. A recent study of young chimpanzees shows that these animals play and develop much the same way as human children. The work, to be published in the Nov. 16 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE, can therefore also shed light on the role of human play behavior.

The authors of the study, Elisabetta Palagi and Giada Cordoni, of the University of Pisa in Italy, found that chimpanzee solitary play peaks in infancy, while the time spent in social play was relatively constant between infants and juveniles. However, the type of social play changed quite a bit as the animals grew up, in terms of measures like complexity and playmate choice. In comparing these behaviors to previous work conducted with humans, they found that both species show significant quantitative and qualitative development in play behavior from infancy to juvenility. Moreover, both chimps and humans consistently use playful to communicate and build social networks.

They also analyzed playmate choice and found that both humans and chimps prefer peers for play partners. Dr. Palagi explains that this is the first research comparing the ontogeny of play behavior in with that of humans, in a standardized way. It is important, because this kind of human data often comes from , not from ethological research.

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

More information: Cordoni G, Palagi E (2011) Ontogenetic Trajectories of Chimpanzee Social Play: Similarities with Humans. PLoS ONE 6(11): e27344. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027344

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Infant play drives chimpanzee respiratory disease cycles

Jun 18, 2008

The signature boom-bust cycling of childhood respiratory diseases was long attributed to environmental cycling. However, the effect of school holidays on rates of social contact amongst children is increasingly seen as another ...

Chimp, bonobo study sheds light on the social brain

Apr 05, 2011

It's been a puzzle why our two closest living primate relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, have widely different social traits, despite belonging to the same genus. Now, a comparative analysis of their brains shows neuroanatomical ...

Like humans, chimps are born with immature forebrains

Aug 11, 2011

In both chimpanzees and humans, portions of the brain that are critical for complex cognitive functions, including decision-making, self-awareness and creativity, are immature at birth. But there are important differences, ...

Laugh and apes laugh with you

Mar 02, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Just like humans, chimpanzees mimic the laughter of their playmates even if they don't find the situation as 'funny'.

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.