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Monkey see, monkey do

Researchers have reportedly confirmed that chimpanzees are intelligent. Going by a study published in Science, the chimp is more intelligent than we human chauvinists have cared to acknowledge.

india Updated: May 22, 2006 00:58 IST

Researchers have reportedly confirmed that chimpanzees are intelligent. Going by a study published in Science, the chimp is more intelligent than we human chauvinists have cared to acknowledge. For it says bonobos and orangutans can even plan ahead into the future.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany found that the apes are not only capable of selecting suitable tools for reaching a treat, but also of carrying it away initially and returning with it to retrieve their rewards much later. This isn’t unlike people building up bank accounts for a rainy day.

A couple of years ago, a team from the Ohio State University had trained the first colony of college-educated apes to count, add and subtract, understand fractions on a computer, and even match a quantity of objects to its correct Arabic number. And in the summer of 2004, British researchers collected the first hard evidence of monkeys using tools when they observed wild capuchin monkeys in the Brazilian forest using stones regularly to forage for food.

And to think that many of these closest living relatives of humans — with whom they share over 98 per cent of their DNA material — are also now on the red list of species that face extinction.