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Article: Chimp evidence animals can plan events

BBC: A male chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo planned hundreds of stone-throwing attacks on zoo visitors, according to researchers. Keepers at Furuvik Zoo found that the chimp collected and stored stones that he would later use as missiles.

Further, the chimp learned to recognise how and when parts of his concrete enclosure could be pulled apart to fashion further projectiles. The findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.

There has been scant evidence in previous research that animals can plan for future events. Crucial to the current study is the fact that Santino, a chimpanzee at the zoo in the city north of Stockholm, collected the stones in a calm state, prior to the zoo opening in the morning. The launching of the stones occurred hours later - during dominance displays to zoo visitors - with Santino in an "agitated" state.

...Dr Osvath embarked on the study after zoo staff discovered caches of stones in the section of the enclosure facing the public viewing area. Since the initial discovery in 1997, hundreds of the caches have been removed to protect visitors, to whom the caching and the aggressive displays seem strictly related; in the off season, Santino neither hoards the projectiles nor hurls them. Most interestingly, Santino seems to have learned how to spot weak parts of the concrete "boulders" in the centre of the enclosure... Santino was observed gently knocking on the "boulders", hitting harder to detach bits that were loosened and adding those to his stashes of ammunition.

There are a number of examples of complex behaviour in apes that suggest forms of consciousness...This suggests that Santino was anticipating a future mental state - an ability that has been difficult to definitively prove in animals, according to Mathias Osvath, a cognitive scientist from Lund University in Sweden and author of the new research.

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HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.