The ‘Human’ Quality We Share With Baboons

As humankind has evolved, we’ve built cities and computers, probed into the far reaches of our galaxy and beyond, cured diseases, and developed thousands of different languages and dialects with which to communicate with each other.

These momentous achievements were made possible by the human capacity for “cumulative culture” — the ability to build up knowledge over generations. As Sir Isaac Newton described his own formulation of the laws of motion and universal gravitation, “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

There has been some debate over whether or not this ability is uniquely human. But a new study from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Edinburgh has found that baboons share some capacity to build up, transmit and make use of small changes in their collective culture over the course of generations.

The researchers studied groups of baboons living at the CNRS Primatology Center in Rousset, France. The baboons had access to a touch-screen “memory game” that had been designed specifically for the study. To play the game, the baboons briefly viewed a screen that displayed a 16-square grid, four of which —> Read More Here


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