Environment, not evolution, might underlie some human-ape differences
Apes' abilities have been unfairly measured, throwing into doubt the assumed belief that human infants are superior to adult chimpanzees, according to a new study by leaders in the field of ape cognition.
Professor Bard said: "Historically, many researchers have claimed humans are superior to apes in social intelligence, but the research is based on studies of captive adult apes isolated from European-style social interaction and human (usually children) from rich western cities. These experiment designs are simply not valid for the comparative study of species differences.
"If an ape from an ape orphanage doesn't appear to understand a communicative signal that western, middle class humans commonly use, it might not mean the ape is socially less able than a human, because there are many non-western humans that also don't use these signals. To truly understand the abilities of each species, research needs to examine specific individual learning histories within specific ecological circumstances for both humans and for apes.
"We urge researchers to stop using fallacious research designs and reasoning in studies of comparative cognition."