Do you know why chimpanzees are so intelligent? Or have you ever though some chimpanzees are smarter than others?
In an interesting revelation, a new study has found that like humans, chimpanzees also inherit a significant amount of their intelligence from their parents.
“Genes matter. We have what we would call a smart chimp, and chimps we’d call not so smart. We were able to explain a lot of that variability by who was related to each other,” said study co-author William Hopkins, a neuro scientist at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
For testing the intelligence levels of chimpanzees and how far they differ from each other, Hopkins and his colleagues gave 99 chimps a battery of cognitive tests at the Yerkes Primate Center, in Atlanta. These cognitive tests were adapted from ones developed by German researchers for comparing humans and great apes.
With the help of these tests, the researchers measured a range of abilities in physical cognition including the ability to discriminate quantity, spatial memory and tool use. The researchers also examined aspects of social cognition, such as communication ability.
The test results were then compared to those of relatives. The research team found roughly half of chimpanzee intelligence was carried by genes, while the remainder was due to environmental forces.
“Chimps offer a really simple way of thinking about how genes might influence intelligence without, in essence, the baggage of these other mechanisms that are confounded with genes in research on human intelligence,” William Hopkins of Georgia State University, said.
The study was published on July 10 in the journal Current Biology.