Sunday, June 10, 2007

"Chimps Spread the News"

While taking a study break, I came across this article:

"Chimps Spread the News"
by Nikhil Swaminathan
Scientific American, June 7, 2007

A new study has been done that shows that chimps teach new customs to fellow chimps. A group of primatologists (cool word) trained eight chimps from different communities to use novel devices to obtain fruit. When these chimps were returned to their original communities and had access to the devices, they taught their fellow chimps the skill. The study also observed that chimps from neighboring communities would watch the chimps using the device and then pick up on the skill as well. As stated in the article, "These observations show 'that chimpanzees can sustain cultures that are made up of several traditions'." This is pretty neat because before this study, there was no evidence that chimps, our closest relatives, could spread learned behavior. Okay, back to studying!

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