Differences in the cognitive skills of bonobos and chimpanzees.

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While bonobos and chimpanzees are both genetically and behaviorally very similar, they also differ in significant ways. Bonobos are more cautious and socially tolerant while chimpanzees are more dependent on extractive foraging, which requires tools. The similarities suggest the two species should be cognitively similar while the behavioral differences predict where the two species should differ cognitively. We compared both species on a wide range of cognitive problems testing their understanding of the physical and social world. Bonobos were more skilled at solving tasks related to theory of mind or an understanding of social causality, while chimpanzees were more skilled at tasks requiring the use of tools and an understanding of physical causality. These species differences support the role of ecological and socio-ecological pressures in shaping cognitive skills over relatively short periods of evolutionary time.





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Herrmann, Esther, Brian Hare, Josep Call and Michael Tomasello (2010). Differences in the cognitive skills of bonobos and chimpanzees. PLoS One, 5(8). p. e12438. 10.1371/journal.pone.0012438 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13885.

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