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Natural World

Are apes able to tell what you are thinking ?

October 7, 2016 | Comment icon 16 comments

Can a monkey anticipate what you are about to do ? Image Credit: GFDL 1.2 Ikiwaner
A new study has shown that our primate cousins may be able to tell what's going on in each other's heads.
'Theory of mind' is a term used to describe our ability to discern someone's intentions based on their actions, a skill that we regularly use in everyday life to anticipate what other people are going to do.

The idea that this ability is possessed by other animals as well however has long remained a matter of debate, but now according to a new study published in the journal Science, there is good evidence to suggest that primates in particular are quite capable of doing the very same thing.

"Decades of research with our closest relatives - chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans - have revealed that great apes do possess many aspects of theory of mind," said study author Christopher Krupenye of the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

"For one, they can identify the goals and intentions behind others' actions. They're also able to recognize which features of the environment others can see or know about."
The new research involved showing a group of primate test subjects a set of movie clips in which humans and apes (played by actors wearing a suit) played a game involving objects being hidden.

Sometimes an "ape" would hide an object while the human watched and then hide it again somewhere else when that person wasn't looking.

By analyzing the eye movements of the monkeys watching the film, the researchers were able to determine that the animals were expecting the human in the film to search for the object in the last place in which they had seen it being hidden, as oppose to where the "ape" had actually hidden it.

"They can anticipate that an individual will search for an object where they last saw it, even though the apes know that it's no longer there," said Krupenye.

"That is a really important human skill that has never been shown before in apes."

Source: Washington Post | Comments (16)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by qxcontinuum 6 years ago
when will humanity stop to consider other animals inferior ? It isn't just apes evolutionary smarter, there are other animals too (excluding pockemoons)  in fact if we 'll have more time to stop and not play Fockemoon for one day , but watch animals behaviours will all see smarter actions and intelligent actions.  Dolphins have a complex language, they talk together, select their other half for life (yeah they do better than humans at this chapter) . They are using 20% of their brain. Crows are notorious for learning things from humans such Ice fishing, etc etc...  Here is an interesting video... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Athena1979 6 years ago
Where is Charleton Heston when you need him?
Comment icon #9 Posted by cerberusxp 6 years ago
Body language very common.
Comment icon #10 Posted by herbygant 6 years ago
Are there skills we lost?
Comment icon #11 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
If it's true - Planet of the Apes here we come.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Thorvir Hrothgaard 6 years ago
Reading our minds and operating high-tech weaponry are two different things.  And it'll require the latter for a bunch of damned dirty apes to (re)create the Planet of the Apes. Unless aliens teach them and arm them.  
Comment icon #13 Posted by herbygant 6 years ago
Call me an ape, you ape.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Thorvir Hrothgaard 6 years ago
That's "damn dirty ape" to you.  
Comment icon #15 Posted by third_eye 6 years ago
Well better not go bananas over this as there may be apes present ... lest we make them go ape ... ~
Comment icon #16 Posted by herbygant 6 years ago
Thanks Thorvir. Damn, that really made me laugh. I've gone ape.

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