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Stone-Throwing Chimp Back In the News With Better Plan 235

Posted by samzenpus
from the chimpan-with-a-plan dept.
sciencehabit writes "Three years ago, a stone-throwing chimpanzee named Santino jolted the research community by providing some of the strongest evidence yet that non-humans could plan ahead. Santino, a resident of the Furuvik Zoo in Gävle, Sweden, calmly gathered stones in the mornings and put them into neat piles, apparently saving them to hurl at visitors when the zoo opened as part of angry and aggressive 'dominance displays.' But some researchers were skeptical that Santino really was planning for a future emotional outburst. Now Santino is back in the scientific literature, the subject of new claims that he has begun to conceal the stones so he can get a closer aim at his targets—further evidence that he is thinking ahead like humans do."
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Stone-Throwing Chimp Back In the News With Better Plan

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  • by Brainman Khan (1330847) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @11:24AM (#39954789)
    Don't Squirrels store nuts??
  • Meh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mingot (665080) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @11:30AM (#39954909)

    I would go and see this chimp if they would let me throw the stones back at him. Hell, I'd even pay good money.

  • by S3D (745318) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @11:36AM (#39955021)
    Santino was castrated [wikipedia.org]. Seems zookeepers decided his planning ability was too advanced for their liking. Thing to remember for one intending to show advanced planning ability to more technologically advanced species.
  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @11:50AM (#39955273)

    Yeah, we should send the little guy back to the Congo so the locals can eat him [janegoodall.ca].

  • No kidding Sherlock (Score:4, Interesting)

    by judoguy (534886) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @11:57AM (#39955363) Homepage
    Man, I coulda told you this 45 years ago.

    My family was driving through Florida in the 60s and we stopped at some wretched “jungle zoo” by the side of the road. I ran ahead of the rest looking at the really sad caged animals and saw the chimp cage. It had ragged poly sheets hanging in front with big holes and tears in them with a chimp sitting quietly. As soon as I got close enough, the chimp sprayed me with a most foul mouthful of something bad and jumped down to a bucketful of nasty and sucked up another huge mouthful.

    I wasn’t the brightest bulb on the tree but even I knew to run like hell. This happened in full view of my family who promptly collapsed in hysterical laughter. The chimp knew exactly what it was doing and planned accordingly.

  • And we also seem to realize that taking kids on field trips to see humans in jail wouldn't be prudent either.

    Not the case - I was on a traveling football team in my younger years (early teen). We had drug and theft issues running through the community and team. We were actually brought to see the humans in jail. I decided at that moment that it was never going to be the place for me. Maybe we should take MORE of our kids to see humans in jail.

  • I live with two pit-bull terriers (both rescued strays), and unfortunately I must keep them in separate rooms because of a traumatic event where during play the one's jaw got caught under the other's collar -- They remember this episode, but confuse it with each hurting the other; Ever since they fight if left together unsupervised for a length of time.

    The one dog, TC (named after the street T.C. Jester where she was found), likes being in the larger part of the house, and would rather not be in the den. So, when I say that "It's time to switch the dogs", and try to put her in the Den, she runs to the back door instead, as if she needs to relieve herself. She knows that the dog in the house usually ends up in the den when the outside dog is let back inside -- to keep them separated.

    If while coming back inside she realises that I'll be putting the other dog outside -- making her more likely to be the dog in the den, then she's resistant to coming back inside... She not only thinks ahead, she's worked out several plans to achieve her goal. If TC knows its her turn to have run of the house, then none of this is an issue, she goes in and out without a care, knowing that it's the other dog that'll be relegated to the den -- Even if she sees the other dog going out when she comes in, she's not reluctant to come inside because she's not planning on being put in the den.

    Furthermore, I'm beginning to run out of ways to say "Walk" and "Car" -- The dogs love riding in the car, and have learned that "C.A.R." means car, "Truck" and "T.R.U.C.K" is also out, can't say or spell "go" without them getting excited to leave -- Currently I've taken to saying, "Vamonos en el Auto" which is me butchering Spanish (never formally studied it, but I've run out of French and English words), because they've also learned "coche"; However, TC has started to pick up on this too -- You can see her perk up and look between the parties as if she's sussing out whether or not we'll soon be leaving. Names of vacation places, such as "Kerville" must be avoided at all cost -- I sometimes attend the Kerville Folk Festival for a week or so and have the neighbour care for one dog at the house while the other is in a kennel (to ensure separation), TC gets distressed when Kerville is mentioned -- She picks it up even in the middle of rapid speech with other parties. TC normally loves to get the leash so we can go for a walk, but Mention Kerville at all and she runs away from the leash for several days. She's planning not to be the dog in the kennel.

    Humans are so damn chauvinistic. There's no such thing as "sentience" -- That's some made up Bullshit right there. There is only varying degrees of awareness and intellect depending on the complexity of the neural network. Bigger network? Smarter. That's all there is to it.

    When (not if) machine learning neural networks surpass the complexity of the human mind by leaps and bounds: I sure hope they're understanding enough of our primitive nature, and don't treat us lesser minded humans as we treat the apes and other creatures with proportionally less neurons. Note that I didn't say I own the dogs...

  • Re:Duh, indeed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -retrograde.com'> on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:06PM (#39957427) Homepage

    What appears to be happening here is the chimp devising a new behavior, not by chance, but by anticipating the future.

    Your premise is flawed. By your definition, the Dog is the same as the Chimp -- The chimp found by chance leaving the stones out of the view of humans gave him better chance to throw them. He learned by chance that gathering the stones first allowed him to throw more at the people. Just like you learned by chance that uttering "mama" or "dada" invoked positive responses.

    I put it to you that all neural networks learn thus. Cognition is merely an ongoing wave of synaptic re-configuring. Internalising an episode of memory is no different than experiencing it, and any creature (such as a dog) that has an episodic memory can reflect upon the past events, devising an action in the moment. Planning ahead? Seriously? That's no different than trying something different in the moment -- The time scales are simply larger in the former. The more neurons and synapses the more complex the neural network.

    For example: A dog must decide -- translate the internal desire into action. It begins with the desire for a treat, sensing this desire and the opportunity at hand they decide, then act. If the human isn't in the room to give the treat, they don't bring the treat to the door when they want a snack! Sense, Decide, Act! It's the basis of logic. If I bring this toy to the door the human will reward me. THAT'S PLANNING AHEAD. They don't just mindlessly crave a treat and arrive at the door toy in mouth. Somewhere in that dog's mind the must conclude, this action will lead to the satisfaction of my desire. It's actually a primitive form of communication you chauvinist.

    The ape is thinking, it may not use words, but just because it has fewer neurons doesn't mean the animals do not reason or plan. THINK MAN!

  • by jbengt (874751) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:44PM (#39957897)

    Dogs always know what time it is. If they could speak they would tell you: "It's now" - that is, they can't really plan ahead. They can plan for the moment, within the limits of their working (short -term) memory. And they can internalize lessons from long-term experience and modify their behavior, such as not stealing food off the table after getting punished several times for it. But they have no capacity to reason about what might happen in the more-than-immediate future and decide what to do based on that. For example, the dog that won't steal food in front of you, may very well steal it when you are out of sight, never realizing that you will know what took place and get mad at it, but acting very guilty when you return to the room because it will only then realize it is in trouble.

    Elephants, on the other hand, based on my own anecdotal "evidence", anyway, appear to be able to plan ahead as well as the chimp in TFA. When I was involved in the gutting and remaking of the building housing elephants, giraffes, etc. at our local zoo, the architect pointed out to me the brown spots on the wall behind the visitor's gallery. It turns out that the poor, bored animal was throwing its' dung at the visitors. The interesting part, though, was that when the zookeepers realized this, and cleaned up the poop before the visitors arrived, the elephant started planning ahead and hiding their excrement on top of the barrier poles so it would be available to throw at the gawkers (the poles were more than 8 feet high and large enough to conceal the dung from the zookeepers). This apparently amused the elephant, as it was done to the squealing delight of all the visiting schoolchildren - those that weren't hit by the shit, anyway.

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