August 23, 2005

Twice the Monkey, Twice the Fun

(Yes, I know, chimps are not monkeys. Nevertheless:)

Monkeys gamble. When given a choice between steady rewards and the chance for more, monkeys will gamble, a new study found.

And they'll keep taking risks as the stakes rise and dry spells get longer.

The research, in which scientists also pinpointed brain activity during the gambling, could provide insight into the human penchant for risk.

(In another study): Chimpanzee culture confirmed. Primate experts say they have proven that chimpanzees, like humans, show social conformity.

By training captive chimps to use tools in different ways, they have shown experimentally that primates develop cultural traditions through imitation. This has long been suspected from observations in the wild, but has not been shown directly.

It suggests that culture has ancient origins, scientists write in Nature.

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