Friday, 18 August 2017

Chimps Can Play Rock-Paper-Scissors at 4-Year-Old Level

By Charles Q. Choi, Live Science Contributor | August 15, 2017 07:02am ET


Chimpanzees can learn how to play the game rock-paper-scissors about as well as a 4-year-old human child, a new study finds.

This finding suggests that the last common ancestor of humans and chimps may have possessed the capability for the complex form of thinking used in the game, scientists said.

In the popular children's game rock-paper-scissors, the hand signal for "paper" always beats the sign for "rock," while "rock" trumps "scissors," and "scissors" defeats "paper." The ability to learn such circular relationships might prove key to solving complex problems or forming complex networks of social relationships, the researchers said. [8 Human-Like Behaviors of Primates]

"In the wild, with many, many animals, you can see dominance ordered by rank — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on. This is fairly typical in chimps," said study senior author Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a primatologist and comparative cognitive scientist at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute in Japan. "However, in human societies, you can have more complex societies, where you can have a circular relationship, with 1 dominant to 2, and 2 to 3, but 3 can be dominant to one. So, there is a question — how did this kind of circular relationship evolve in humans?"

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