Behavioral Similarities between Humans, Chimps and Apes


Humans and Chimps share many of the same play behaviors. This article presents a study that compares the play behavior development of chimps and humans. The findings show that like in humans chimps solitary play peaks during infancy, time spent in social play for infants and juveniles remained relatively constant, but as chimps grow up they start to develop habits of more complex social play and selective playmate choice. "In comparing these behaviors to previous work conducted with humans, they found that both species show significant quantitative and qualitative development in play behavior from infancy to juvenility. Moreover, both chimps and humans consistently use playful facial expressions to communicate and build social networks."

There is also the similarity between apes and humans in the fact that we both develop culture, this article presents findings on the subject. "A team of researchers headed by anthropologist Michael Kr├╝tzen from the University of Zurich has demonstrated that great apes also have the ability to learn socially and pass them down through a great many generations." Biologists have reported geographic variations in behavior between different groups of apes that could only come about from the cultural transmission of innovations, similar to in humans. "The parameters responsible for differences in social structure and behavioral ecology between orangutan populations, environmental influences and, to a lesser degree, genetic factors played an important role, proving that the parameters measured were the right ones." Taking into account theses parameters and the differences in behavior, the scientists concluded that these geographic variations in behavior are culturally driven. So, like humans, apes have the ability to develop culture.



This makes a lot of sense. The genome of a chimp is more than 95% the same as that in humans. Also chimps have been able to learn sign language, to an extent, showing their ability to learn language and effectively communicate.

I'll never forget the day that I went to the Philadelphia zoo and first saw a gorilla in person. It's mannerisms are so similar to humans it was almost scary. Apes seem to have such an awareness of the world around them, interacting with humans on a whole other level then other animals. It really makes it easier, for me anyways, to see that we as humans are so closely related to apes. It took us millions of years to evolve into what we are today, anyone see the apes of today evolving into intelligent beings far far into the future?

That does make a lot of sense especially since infancy is a period of exploration where the baby is still taking in stimuli from their environment. In a developmental psychology class I took we looked at the development of a child in relation to play and it stimulates social relationship, thinking skills, physical coordination and how to be aggressive and compassionate. There are actually four types of play the emerge in conjunction with the developmental stage of the child. During each stage the child reaches milestones with social implications. Here is a website that goes through the stages of play.

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