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8 Humanlike Behaviors of Primates

  • Our Ape Ancestors

    portrait of a young chimpanzee
    CREDIT: © Marcel Schauer | portrait of a young chimpanzee
    Portrait of a young chimpanzee.
  • Say 'No'

    CREDIT: Vanessa Woods, Duke University. Humans Have a Lot to Learn From Bonobos, Scientist Says
    Primatologists Brain Hare studies bonobos. Here, a bonobo named Mimi, the alpha female, has a little down time.
  • Beg for Food

    Mandrill covering eyes
    CREDIT: Mark Laidre Mandrill covering eyes
    A male mandrill at the Colchester zoo in England performs a unique gesture with his right hand, which one scientist believes acts as a 'do not disturb sign.'
  • Laugh out Loud

    CREDIT: Miriam Wessels, University of Veterinary Medicine Pre-Human Giggles: Laughter Goes Back 10 Million Years
    Laughter erupts as the orangutan Naru is tickled in Borneo in 2005.
  • Recognize Faces

    thatcher illusion
    CREDIT: Christoph Dahl Thatcher Illusion
    Local changes in facial features are hardly noticeable when the whole face is inverted (rotated 180°), but strikingly grotesque when the face is upright. In the Diagram two faces of an individual are presented. One picture is normal, while the seems grotesque by an upright presentation, but not if the faces are rotated 180°. Moreover, this illusion disappears if faces of another species are manipulated in the same way (see monkey faces).
  • Eat Junk Food to Calm Nerves

    hugging monkeys
    CREDIT: © David Cloud | Hugging monkeys
    Baby rhesus macaque monkeys hugging in Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Use Sex Toys

    Chimp\'s Tool Box Shows Deep Thought
    An adult male chimp uses two tools to get a meal of ants. The behavior may be passed down like culture among humans.
  • Choose Gender-Specific Toys

    vervet monkeys
    CREDIT: Gerianne M. Alexander Vervet Monkeys
    Vervet monkeys play with gender-specific toys in an experiment.
  • Play Fair

    CREDIT: NSF Finding a Monkey's Sense of Fairness
    This still from an NSF Science Nation episode "Monkey Business" shows part of a cooperation experiment, two capuchin monkeys, housed in the testing chamber on the left, choose one of two tokens, one of which represents cooperation and one of which represents non-cooperation.

While we lost most of our body hair and bulked up our brains, humans are evolutionarily close to other great apes, with about 97 percent of our genes DNA matching up. Beyond looks, researchers have found a startling number of humanlike behaviors practiced by our ape ancestors.

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