Chimpanzees filmed with behavior thought to be unique to humans

We already knew that the chimpanzees shared many things in common with humans. But British scientists have just discovered that this resemblance is even stronger than they thought. These great apes would share objects with their peers, just to get attention.

In Uganda, in Kibale National Park, scientists were able to film this type of interaction for the first time. The discovery was described in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Sharing a sheet

A wild adult female named Fiona was filmed picking up a leaf, putting it in her mouth, then showing said leaf to her mother, Sutherland, for several seconds, before pulling it out from under her nose. For experts, this demonstrates that Fiona shares what she has only to get attention. This social behavior was previously only associated with humans.

“It has been suggested that ‘sharing for sharing’s sake’ is a uniquely human trait, but our observation of these wild chimpanzees calls this into question, said study author Dr Claudia Wilke of the Department of Psychology at the University of York. We observed an adult chimpanzee showing his mother a leaf she had cleaned, not because she wanted her to do anything with the leaf, but most likely because she just wanted her to look. also the leaf.”

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Before adding: “Sutherland’s attention was focused elsewhere as Fiona did this, and after cleaning the sheet for several seconds, Fiona held it out to Sutherland. She repositioned her arm when the initial attempt elicited no response. Once Sutherland took care of the leaf by fully orienting his eyes and moving towards her, Fiona pulled it out and continued grooming the leaves.”.

Behavior similar to that of a young child

In order to come to this conclusion, the team of scientists looked at 84 similar leaf cleaning events, to “to explore Fiona’s probable motivation for her gesture”. Other explanations, such as sharing food and grooming or playing, have thus been ruled out.

In the end, the authors of the study compare Fiona’s gesture to young children who love “share attention with others on external entities”.

Future research will aim to further study this behavior.

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