Sunday, 30 June 2013

Social Lemurs Have More 'Street Smarts,' Study Finds

Lemurs that come from big tribes and live in large groups exhibit more "social smarts" than those that live with only a few companions, finds a new study that suggests the size of a primate's social network could influence its social intelligence.

Researchers designed a series of experiments to test lemurs' social cognition. Essentially, the scientists were curious how lemurs process a situation — specifically, how they decide whether or not a human can see them — and then how they use that information in manipulative ways — in this case, to steal a piece of food if they think they are not being watched, said lead study author Evan MacLean, a senior researcher in the department of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

"There's an idea that animals that live in big groups develop important psychological abilities, because they have to figure out how to get their way in an environment where they can't always get their way," MacLean told LiveScience.

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