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They Are Real Human-Like Attributes

Posted on 06 April 2013 by admin

A perennial question within animal research is are we projecting human attributes onto chimps and apes or is their human-like behavior natural?  The results of a review of multiple studies appeared in the journal “Animal Behavior” and declared the behavior observed was not a projection, was real, and there was no evidence of researcher bias.  These results prompted Mark Adams, PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh U.K., to state, “(Chimpanzees) have the same social problems that we do, they want to make friends and find mates and sort of gain position within their society.”

Charles Darwin famously observed, “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties….The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.”  While our first study shows that primate researchers have not biased their results, the behavior of a chimp in Sweden shows an all too human-like deviousness.

Previous research in Sweden showed a chimpanzee at the Furuvik Zoo gathered stones from his enclosure that he threw at zoo visitors.  More recent research showed evidence the chimp is even more devious.  He hides his weapons stockpiles behind rocks and logs for future use and fashions projectiles with a combination of hay, mud and feces.  He keeps these stockpiles near the viewing area so as not to be seen approaching with a projectile but rather throwing one from close up so visitors have no opportunity to retreat.

Researcher Mathias Osvath, a comparative cognitive scientist and scientific director of Lund University’s Primate Research Station, was quoted in a May 18, 2012 posting by LiveScience.com as saying “The results indicate that he (the chimp) can anticipate behaviors of others who are not present in the situation where he makes his preparations.”

Reversing the process described above, researchers often look to animal behavior in an attempt to understand why humans evolved the behaviors they exhibit.  Even though only about 5% of mammals are monogamous, there is evidence of monogamy in mammals, including Humans, where both parents are needed to raise offspring.  Recent research on owl monkeys was reviewed by NationalGeographic.com in February of 2013.  It shows that monogamous pairs produce 25% more babies than monkeys in severed pairs.

Fernandez-Duque, a biological anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, observed “Call it love, call it friendship, call it marriage – there is something in our biology that leads to this enduring, emotional bond between two individuals that is widespread among human societies.” Larry Young, a behavioral neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, credits our brain chemistry in his new book entitled “The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction”.  Young states our organs “have evolved the mechanism to produce an emotional attachment.”  He believes monogamous attachments are reinforced by the production of pleasure producing oxytocin and dopamine which causes feelings of exhilaration and happiness during intimacy between animals.

All of this information once again serves only to reinforce the validity of Darwin’s earlier observation.  Chapter Six – Human Uniqueness in the author’s book Beyond Animal, Ego and Time delves further into these topics.

Use the following links to obtain more information:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347212001157

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18146336

http://news.yahoo.com/deceptive-chimp-hides-ammo-blasts-unsuspecting-zoo-visitors-161640789.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/02/130213-valentines-day-owl-monkeys-animals-love-science/

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