Chimps too possess human abilities to plan for future danger

March 10th, 2009 - 12:47 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 10 (ANI): Its not only humans who plan for future events, chimpanzees too possess the ability to prepare in advance for any danger or calamity, says a new study.

Researchers described such behaviour after their decade long observation in which they saw that chimpanzees in a zoo calmly collect stones and fashion concrete discs that they 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. It implies that they have a highly developed consciousness, including life-like mental simulations of potential events,” said Mathias Osvath of Lund University.

He added: 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 behaviour.”

Although researchers have observed many ape behaviours that could involve planning both in the wild and in captivity, they havent really judged if they were doing it to meet a current or future need.

For instance, when a chimp 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 thus, in the new study, Osvath has said that it is clear that the chimp’’s planning behaviour is not based on a “current drive state.”

On the other hand, they found that while the chimp in the study was extremely agitated while 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 chimpanzees have shown they are capable of making such plans.

“I think that wild chimpanzees might be even better at planning as they probably rely on it for their daily survival. The environment in a zoo 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,” said Osvath.

The study is published in the latest issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. (ANI)

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