Chimp's stone throwing at zoo visitors was 'premeditated'

Mar 09, 2009
A chimpanzee

Researchers have found what they say is some of the first unambiguous evidence that an animal other than humans can make spontaneous plans for future events. The report in the March 9th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, highlights a decade of observations in a zoo of a male chimpanzee calmly collecting stones and fashioning concrete discs that he would later use to hurl at zoo visitors.

"These observations convincingly show that our fellow apes do consider the future in a very complex way," said Mathias Osvath of Lund University. "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."

While researchers have observed many ape behaviors that could involve planning both in the wild and in captivity, it generally hasn't been possible to judge whether they were really meeting a current or future need, he added. For instance, when a breaks a twig for termite fishing or collects a stone for nut cracking, it can always be argued that they are motivated by immediate rather than future circumstances.

And that's what makes the newly described case so special, Osvath said. It is clear that the chimp's planning behavior is not based on a "current drive state." In contrast to the chimp's extreme agitation when throwing the stones, he was always calm when collecting or manufacturing his ammunition.

Osvath said he thinks wild chimps in general, as well as other animals, probably have the planning ability demonstrated by the individual described in the study. Indeed, experiments conducted recently with other captive have shown they are capable of making such plans. (Some have argued, however, that those findings could be the result of experimental artifacts.)

"I think that wild chimpanzees might be even better at planning as they probably rely on it for their daily survival," Osvath said. "The environment in a is far less complex than in a forest. Zoo chimps never have to encounter the dangers in the forest or live through periods of scarce food. Planning would prove its value in 'real life' much more than in a zoo."

Source: Cell Press

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User comments : 10

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thales
1 / 5 (6) Mar 09, 2009
"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..."

Right, like monkeys have a soul. Psshh.
barkster
4 / 5 (2) Mar 09, 2009
Right, like monkeys have a soul. Psshh.
Perhaps, not... but that doesn't eliminate the possibility that they can think about yesterday or plan out tomorrow in some simplistic fashion. Thought does not require a soul, as perhaps spirit and faith might.
Suzu
not rated yet Mar 09, 2009
Lol "soul" argument. We might as well talk about dancing Jesus in my backyard.
Bonkers
not rated yet Mar 10, 2009
not the first cretin comment from "thales" - probably exactly the type of visitor the monkey likes to throw stones at.
Icester
5 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2009
Lol "soul" argument. We might as well talk about dancing Jesus in my backyard.


You have a dancing Jesus in your backyard? Cool. Upload a video to YouTube.

Seriously though, the research is not implying or trying to imply anything about any religious aspect. It is about the way we internally represent the world and ourselves in the world. We do not represent the world in a 1-for-1 manner (ala Nyquist), but instead use a reduced, highly efficient representation (see qualia for related discussion). One of the most puzzling aspects of the internal representation is how we represent ourselves and this research is a step in the right direction.
thales
4.5 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2009
Unfortunate - I thought my humor was less subtle than apparently it was. My point was that the idea of a soul is silly. I was aiming for a parody of fundamentalism. My mistake - next time I'll use the [parody] [/parody] brackets.
thales
not rated yet Mar 10, 2009
not the first cretin comment from "thales" - probably exactly the type of visitor the monkey likes to throw stones at.

Bonkers, are you still sore over the homeopath thing? Maybe you need to drink some remembery water. http://www.physor...047.html

I'm sorry you think I'm a cretin. Ironic, really, since the etymology of the word suggests it likely comes from "Christian". Maybe you're the cretin?
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Mar 15, 2009
Right, like monkeys have a soul. Psshh.


Of course you have massive evidence that humans have this so far undetected and completely hypothetical soul. Have just been keeping it a secret?

Why did you even use the word soul? Its not even implied in the article.

Ethelred
tw60407
not rated yet Mar 15, 2009
Right, like monkeys have a soul. Psshh.


Do humans have a soul? does the "soul" exist?
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Mar 16, 2009
thales said:
Unfortunate - I thought my humor was less subtle than apparently it was.


Subtle had nothing to do with it.


http://www.godandscience.org/
http://www.av1611...kjv.html
http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/
http://www.godhatesfags.com/
http://www.landov...ist.org/
http://objectivem.../zounds/]http://objectivem.../zounds/[/url]
http://objectivem.../zounds/]http://objectivem.../zounds/[/url]

At least one of the above is a fake religious site. Attempts to parody fanaticism is doomed to failure at least when you only have used one paragraph.

Next time you might keep that in mind. Write a LOT more or passover it.

Ethelred