Sunday, 15 April 2012

Toddlers and Chimps 'Go With the Crowd'

Chimps and toddlers rely on the "wisdom of the crowd" to sway their decision-making processes, new research indicates. Orangutans don't, which could be because they live solitary lives.

The researchers were interested in finding out more about social learning — how one animal picks up behaviors from others rather than learning something by trial and error. This could be anything from tool use to cultural traditions.

This social learning is present in many primate species and has been seen throughout the animal kingdom.

"We study humans, chimpanzees and orangutans, because they are closely related species, all belonging to the great ape family," study researcher Daniel Haun, of the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, Germany, told LiveScience. "Investigating similarities and differences between closely related species provides insight into what makes each of them unique against the backdrop of their close relatives."

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