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How Are Chimps And Humans Similar?

For the longest time, humanity has sought a connection to the flora and fauna of the animal kingdom. Despite vocal opposition, the fact remains that there are so many similarities between humans and chimpanzees, that evolutionary biologists call them our ‘cousins.’

Chimpanzees exhibit social behaviors once thought exclusive to humans. Here is a list of striking similarities between humans and our great ape cousins:

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1. They Play

Ever notice how children go out on summer mornings to play with the other neighborhood kids? When it comes to Chimpanzees, they are no different. They spend just as many hours playing, exhibiting behaviors that researchers refer to as “activity that produces no clear or immediate benefits -, both during their childhood and their ‘youth.’”

The social games that chimps participate in help them develop social relationships and teach them how to cooperate with others. As with humans, the games that they play become much more cutthroat as they age.

2. They Know How to Smile

We humans are known for smiling when we greet each other, often for family pictures, and other times for social media videos. While chimps don’t possess the level of technology that we do, they do smile as much as us.

They smile quietly or grin from ear-to-ear, bursting with laughter at the hilarity that had unfolded before them moments before.

3. They are Gourmands

For chimpanzees, it’s a little harder to shop around for the family’s afternoon dinner. Because they lack access to supermarkets and other food establishments, they’ll travel far and wide for their ingredients.

They preference for cooked food suggest they understand the fundamentals of the transformation process when food is cooked. Chimpanzees simply lack the ability to control fire, something that experiments have shown is not more than a few years off.

Sooner or later, you’ll see Kanzi the bonobo chimp competing on MasterChef.

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4. They are Aware of The Fact They Can Think

Have you ever wondered if other animals sit and reflect on their lives and how things have developed over time? Like us, chimpanzees have what is known as meta-cognition: the awareness and understanding of one’s own though processes.

The heightened understanding also gives them an awareness to the knowledge that they do and do not possess, and allows them to respond and behave accordingly.

Looks like we are not the only ones on land capable of making intelligent decisions.

5. They are Fair and Moral

For most of our history, the human race has believed that the concept of morality was exclusively a human one. It turns out that chimpanzees judge each other in a similar fashion. If certain behaviors affect babies in a negative way, the members of the species often react with indignation and anger.

The University of Zurich was able to determine through extensive research that chimpanzees have a sense of morality on par with humans. The primates even display a shared aversion to injustice.

“For chimpanzees – who are very cooperative in the wild -, being sensitive to the equal distribution of rewards represents an evolutionary advantage because cooperation benefits them,” say researchers.

6. They Have a Numerical Memory Span

Chimpanzees may be new competition in the ‘best memory for a primate’ category.

During an experiment conducted at the University of Kyoto (Japan), a 5-year-old chimpanzee showed better ability to remember numbers flashed on a screen than an adult human.

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The experiment conducted by Japanese researchers suggest that chimps may have an eidetic memory, the ability to recall in detail most things seen or heard.

7. They Wage War

Fighting over territory on the scale that humans do is also not unique to our species. Chimpanzee troops have been observed in the wild executing large-scale coordinated attacks against enemy groups.

Such attacks are more common in denser populations and those with higher male numbers.

8. They Cultivate Friendship

After extensive study, behavioral researcher Filippo Aureli concluded that chimps have friends who are “unrelated individuals who spend time with them… also help them in cases of confrontation, sharing food and collaborating.”

Much like humans, chimpanzees choose their friends based on shared personality traits.

9. They Use Tools

Knowing now that they have the ability to reflect on their own thoughts, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that chimpanzees have developed the ability to use tools. It was first observed in 1960 when a group of chimps used sharpened stick to fish for termites in dirt mounds.
They will also make spears, use stones as hammers and anvils, and use pulverized leaf pulp as sponges.

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