New Scientist advises, “Bonobos use a range of tools like stone-age humans.” Indeed, they “demonstrate caveman skills.”
The study shows that bonobos are capable of a wide range of tool use that puts them at least on a par with chimps, says Roffman. Their foraging techniques resemble those used by the earliest Stone-Age humans of the Oldowan culture. “When you give them the raw materials, they use them in correct and context-specific strategies,” Roffman says.
However, captive bonobos, unlike their wild cousins, have plenty of time to experiment, says Francesco d’Errico of the University of Bordeaux in France.
The captive animals’ actions may bear little resemblance to what happens in the wild. Still, says d’Errico, it shows the potential is there and the skill may even come and go as needed. Roffman suspects that once researchers study bonobos in the southern part of their range, where food is harder to get, they may find that tool use is common. More.
Hey, wait a minute. Who funds this research?
First, even alligators and crocs use tools. (So do birds.)
In fairness, reptiles may be smarter than people think:
A traditional theory denied that the “reptilian brain” was capable of such feats, but it is better recognized today that life forms use different parts of their brains differently. Anoles proved as smart as tits (birds) in a problem-solving test for a food reward. But they don’t need much food.
The exothermic (cold-blooded) reptile can solve most of life’s problems by just remaining inactive, which could certainly limit the demand for intelligence. Some intelligence may nonetheless be latent, and show only as needed.
Also: “The captive animals’ actions may bear little resemblance to what happens in the wild.” That’s an important point. Even a common house cat can sometimes learn from watching humans:
Like most people, I never thought the enterprising cat could export his knowledge to any other situation.
I was wrong.
It doesn’t mean the cat thunk it up by himself. Or even understood the principle behind what he was doing. Or ever would.
The gulf between human and animal minds is not bridged by this stuff. The crashingly obvious question is, if bonobos are so smart, why are they still screaming in the trees?
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution) and The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (the human mind)
Follow UD News at Twitter!