Friday, 30 December 2011

Before Sounding an Alarm, Chimps Consider Information Available to Their Audience

ScienceDaily (Dec. 29, 2011) — Wild chimpanzees monitor the information available to other chimpanzees and inform their ignorant group members of danger.

Many animals produce alarm calls to predators, and do this more often when kin or mates are present than other audience members. So far, however, there has been no evidence that they take the other group members' knowledge state into account. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and the University of St. Andrews, Great Britain, set up a study with wild chimpanzees in Uganda and found that chimpanzees were more likely to alarm call to a snake in the presence of unaware than in the presence of aware group members, suggesting that they recognize knowledge and ignorance in others. Furthermore, to share new information with others by means of communication represents a crucial stage in the evolution of language. This study thus suggests that this stage was already present when our common ancestor split off from chimps 6 million years ago.


Read more at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111229131234.htm

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