September 7, 2007


Toddler Study Proves Humans Outsmart Apes (Health Day, Sep 6, 2007)

For those needing evidence that humans are brainier than the average ape, there's a new study showing that toddlers are better at "social learning," compared to adult primates.

When presented with a tube containing food or a toy, two-and-a-half-year-olds followed an experimenter's example to retrieve the prize, while the apes put all their energy towards simply biting or breaking the tube.

Humans differ from the great apes because their brains are about triple the size of their closest primate cousins. Human brains have also developed language, symbolic math and scientific reasoning skills.

As mc points out, the revealing part of the story is the -- quite correct -- assumption that there remain "those needing evidence." Though we're partial to the absurd notion embodied in "brains have also developed."

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 7, 2007 7:25 AM

These researchers have obviously never spent time in Fenway or Yankee Stadium...

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 7, 2007 10:20 AM

Any 2 1/2 y.o. who can't do that has something seriously wrong developmentally. Well, 2 1/2 y.o. girls at least...

Posted by: b at September 7, 2007 11:49 AM

...the boys meanwhile, would do exactly what the apes did: "put all their energy towards simply biting or breaking the tube."

Posted by: b at September 7, 2007 11:53 AM

We had lunch at Chili's this afternoon. Across from our table were two young women and their three adorable sons all under four. The boys chewed the coasters and the menus, ripped up napkins, spilled their sippy cups all over the table and the floor, tossed their food back and forth, and generally had a wonderful time while their moms caught up. The area around and under their table was completely littered and we were highly entertained.

It was so glad the mothers left the boys to their work and didn't try to get them to behave like girls because there would be no way short of drugging them to get these energetic bolts of protoplasm to sit still and color.

When they left, it was short work to shovel up the debris and get the table ready for the next diners.

Posted by: erp at September 7, 2007 4:32 PM


Thank you. I take my kids out for dinner once or twice a week, and I forget sometimes how much fun they can have.

They always want to walk all over the place, which always gets me (unless we are the only guests), but when we go to the House of Taipei, their favorite is making stew (filling an extra water glass with rice and debris from the meal, topped off with soy sauce, spicy mustard, and a broccoli floret). I keep telling them that one day I will dare them to drink it. And (I know) some day, one of them will.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 8, 2007 2:02 AM

... and one day they'll be all grown up and a tear will come to your eye when you observe some little imps having a great old time and silently thank the gods that be that you've lived long enough to enjoy the show. Best of luck with your brood.

Posted by: erp at September 8, 2007 9:37 AM