Apes ‘can see trick­ery’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

LON­DON: Kinds of un­der­stand­ing that were thought to ex­ist only in hu­mans might also be shared by apes.

The knowl­edge that a per­son might think things about re­al­ity that aren’t true was thought to be held only by us.

New re­search with chim­panzees, bono­bos and orang­utans, how­ever, has found apes can tell if you’re mak­ing a mis­take. We tend to de­velop that kind of aware­ness at about the age of 5.

We are then de­vel­op­ing the abil­ity to fully com­pre­hend what other peo­ple are think­ing and feel­ing.

Hav­ing that abil­ity al­lows us to get along with other peo­ple, help them out and fig­ure our way around the world.

It can be used neg­a­tively, too, to trick peo­ple into think­ing things that aren’t the case.

And it was that skill for trick­ery that al­lowed sci­en­tists to test what apes know about what oth­ers are think­ing.

Sci­en­tists showed the apes two short videos. In one, a per­son in a King Kong suit hides him­self in one of two haystacks while a man watches.

The man then leaves through a door and the per­son in the King Kong suit runs away. The man then comes back in and tries to find King Kong.

The sci­en­tists watched the move­ment of the apes’ eyes while they were watch­ing the video. And the apes looked long­est at the place where King Kong had been hid­ing. That led the sci­en­tists to con­clude they knew the man would think he was still there.

The re­search, led by Dr Christo­pher Kru­penye of Duke Univer­sity in the US and com­par­a­tive psy­chol­o­gist Dr Fu­mi­hiro Kano of Ky­oto Univer­sity, Ja­pan, will be pub­lished in the jour­nal Sci­ence. – The In­de­pen­dent

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