October 26, 2005

OTHER THAN THAT...:

Chimps won’t do a neighbor a favor (World Science, Oct. 26, 2005)

Long ago were the days, it seems, when we humans could consider ourselves truly unique.

With chimps and other animals having been found to exhibit a range of human-like traits—including tool use, culture and some elements of language—it’s gotten harder and harder for scientists and philosophers to say just what sets us apart.

Finally, there may be some news to make us feel special again.

Researchers say they may have found one key trait that clearly separates humans from chimps, and possibly from other species: we’re the only ones that do favors without expecting something in return.

Chimps don’t show this sort of consideration, the researchers found.


Most frustrating for those who believe we're otherwise identical, the chimps refuse to explain their behavior.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 26, 2005 6:04 PM
Comments

by stretching definitions it may true that "traitsincluding tool use, culture and some elements of language" are "observed" but the primary distinction remains: only humans cook their food (sorry Aristotle).

Posted by: anon at October 26, 2005 11:28 PM

Also, there's a difference between using a found object as a tool, (which is plenty smart in and of itself), and designing, planning, constructing, and maintaining tools or implements that are task-specific.

It's the difference between being a Commander of the Universe, and being fulfilled and happy by finding some ripe fruit.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 27, 2005 4:01 AM
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