Scientists have known for years that chimpanzees have the ability to work together, but researchers in the new study wished to analyze just how deep their understanding of cooperation was by testing their ability to work together as a team. (Photo : Reuters)
The old idiom might be "monkey see, monkey do" - but according to a new study, "chimp see, chimp do," might be far more accurate. Scientists discovered that chimpanzees were able to successfully anticipate one another's needs, coordinate their actions and cooperate to obtain food, based on new research results.
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The new study shows that primates are "true team players", and may help us learn more about the genesis of human cooperation throughout evolution, said lead study author Alicia Melis, a behavioral scientist at Warwick Business School in the U.K., according to LiveScience.
"The study provides the first evidence that chimpanzees can pay attention to the partner's actions in a collaborative task, and shows they know their partner not only has to be there, but perform a specific role if they are to succeed," said Melis, according to a press release.
Scientists have known for years that chimpanzees have the ability to work together, but researchers in the new study wished to analyze just how deep their understanding of cooperation was by testing their ability to work together as a team.
Researchers conducted the study with 12 chimpanzees at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya. Scientists held an experiment where pairs of chimps were given a sealed-off plastic box that was placed next to a rake and "thick stick." With one chimp behind the box, and the other in front, researchers tasked the primates with coordinating their actions by using the tools provided to reach food. As LiveScience explains, "The chimpanzee at the back of the box had to push grapes from the box onto a platform using the rake. The chimpanzee at the front had to use the stick to push up the platform and tip the grapes onto the ground, where both chimpanzees could eat them."
The experiments started with one chimp getting both tools. Ten out of the 12 chimpanzees figured out that they had to give one of the tools to their partner to successfully get the grapes. In 73 percent of attempts, the chimp chose the right tool to hand over to get the job done.
"There were great individual differences regarding how quickly they started transferring tools to their partner," Melis explained. "However, after transferring a tool once, they subsequently transferred tools in 97 percent of trials and successfully worked together to get the grapes in 86 percent of trials."
The study also indicates chimps are impeccable at formulating strategy, Melis added, according to Discovery News.