Social imitation found in rhesus monkeys

Sep 05, 2006

Italian scientists have provided the first quantitative description of neonatal imitation in a non-human primate.

The University of Parma researchers say that indicates imitative capacities are not unique to the ape and human lineage, contrary to what was previously thought.

Mimicry exists throughout the animal kingdom, but imitation with a purpose -- matching one's behavior to others' as a form of social learning -- has been seen only in great apes. It's been generally believed monkeys do not imitate in that way.

Pier Ferrari, Stephen Suomi and colleagues explored the possibility imitation evolved earlier in the primate tree by studying neonatal imitation in rhesus monkeys, which split from the human lineage about 25 million years ago. They found rhesus infants can imitate a subset of human facial gestures -- gestures the monkeys use to communicate.

The research appears in the open access journal PLoS Biology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Ideology prevents wheat growers from converting to more profitable methods, new study shows

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gift Guide: Five fitness trackers offer wide range

20 minutes ago

There are several fitness trackers to choose from, varying in what they measure and how easy they are to use. Here are five, ranked from budget to sophisticated, to give you a sense of the range available. ...

Microbial 'signature' for sexual crimes

8 hours ago

Bacterial communities living on an individual's pubic hairs could be used as a microbial 'signature' to trace their involvement in sexual assault cases, according to a study published in the open access journal Investigative Ge ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover protein protecting against chlorine

1 hour ago

Chlorine is a common disinfectant that is used to kill bacteria, for example in swimming pools and drinking water supplies. Our immune system also produces chlorine, which causes proteins in bacteria to lose ...

Big data and the science of the Christmas tree

2 hours ago

Often called the "Cadillac of Christmas trees," the Fraser Fir has everything a good Christmas tree should have: an even triangular shape, a sweet piney fragrance, and soft needles that (mostly) stay attached ...

Quest to unravel mysteries of our gene network

2 hours ago

There are roughly 27,000 genes in the human body, all but a relative few of them connected through an intricate and complex network that plays a dominant role in shaping our physiological structure and functions.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.