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More Human vs. Monkey: Monkeys add up like we do Answered

In the continuing saga of monkeys versus college students in the field of arithmetics, researchers at Duke University have determined that students are only a mere fraction better than trained rhesus macaques in basic addition. With the continuing decline in college student's cognitive abilities, I expect monkeys to soon be entering - and out competing humans - in the workforce.

http://www.nature.com/news/2007/071218/full/news.2007.381.html
Monkeys add up like we do

Rhesus monkeys master basic addition in a similar way to humans.

A mathematical competition between two rhesus macaques and fourteen undergraduates has revealed a new similarity between monkeys and college students: their ability to handle basic addition.

In the battle of man versus macaque, students bested the monkeys for overall accuracy at 94% to 76%. But response times during a computerized test of addition were approximately the same in the two groups. Both groups were more likely to stumble as the magnitude of the sums increased.

Such similarities, researchers say, suggest an evolutionary continuity between basic mathematical skills in humans and other primates. The results are published this week in PLoS Biology 1.

The fact that monkeys can handle basic arithmetic is not in itself new, as it had been suggested by previous work. If monkeys watch as lemons are placed behind a screen, for example, they will stare longer at the fruit if the screen is lifted to reveal an incorrect sum of lemons2. Their apparent surprise when the number of lemons revealed isn't what was expected suggests the presence of rudimentary mathematical ability, says Jessica Cantlon of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

"It's not math in the sense of a symbolic procedure, the way that humans typically think of math," says Cantlon. Monkeys won't be doing full-blown algebra anytime soon. "It's a more primitive form."

More monkey versus human news here:
Chimp beats students at computer game

Comments

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Austringer
Austringer

13 years ago

You know, if you told me that a chimp was faster than me at "1, 2, 3, 4, many" kinds of math skills, I'd have almost no problem believing you. When he can set me up with an Excel spreadsheet that does a four parameter fit, and then checks my datasets for parallelism, I'll worry more.

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

Hmm, if one starts doing Calculus with one or two variables....then I might worry some :-)

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demiz
demiz

Reply 13 years ago

We have evolved over millions of years apart from our "monkey" relatives. Though we have been nearly genetically identical as a species for at least a million years and when did we come up with calculus? And what worries you about calculus performing monkeys? I don't believe anyone is claiming this monkey is your cousin as in your father or mothers sister. I am not trying to be condescending. All mammals have similarities to us in brain function and anatomy. All animals,in fact nearly all living things , are far more similar than they are different. The fact that our brains work so well at self-actualizing, differentiating, and meticulously scrutinizing all these differences is a testament to the cognizance of an organisms understanding of the struggle to survive. And that being the greatest common intelligence

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

It doesn't worry me the way you may think :-) It would worry me because it meant some human went through the trouble of making an elaborate hoax of some sort.

The problem with "commonality" is that so few creatures that are so distant from each other, have the ability to "teach" their young "vocalized communication" despite most creatures having the ability to "vocalize". Why did they, if they had it, lose it? Why would something that would help preserve the species, be eliminated from the species? Or maybe it never existed at all, and our closest living relative it the song bird? :-) Making, of course, complete fun of the derogatory phrase "bird brain" LOL

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demiz
demiz

Reply 13 years ago

physiologically our vocal cords and tongue are much different than our closest relatives in the animal kingdom

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

Yep, but not so different from a few a bit further away, relatively speaking ;-)

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Doctor What
Doctor What

13 years ago

While monkeys may have better skills at some things, it is still no comparison. A cheetah runs faster than we do. A cat climbs better than we do. A whale has a better sense of direction than we do. So do turtles. One thing, such as adding numbers or memorization does not outweigh the fact that we are exeedingly smarter than monkeys no matter how fast they can touch a screen.

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

too often we equate "ability to learn" with intelligence, but some worms and a few single celled animals can be taught a reaction...it is overall cognizance that should be the measurement.

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Doctor What
Doctor What

Reply 13 years ago

Yep. BTW, I love the knew avatar. Very inquisitive.

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

Used my CAM to take that :-) so I was looking UP at it LOL

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ll.13
ll.13

13 years ago

Come on G.G.G.G.G.G.G.G.G.G.G.G. Granddad!

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Kiteman
Kiteman

Reply 13 years ago

Actually, distant cousin.

Your mutual G etc died a long time ago.

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

My cousins have the ability to learn new vocalizations ;-)

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Punkguyta
Punkguyta

13 years ago

I won't believe it until I see a video of a monkey counting numbers on a computer screen, pretty unlikely. Since when has a monkey been able to even focus on doing something like that, let alone go "hey look at teh pretty lights, let's count them and add them up". No offense but I'm rather skeptical.

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

and lacking any learned verbal skills doesn't help at all either :-)