What Sets us Apart from Monkeys and Apes?


Which human behaviors are unique compared to other primates such as monkeys and apes?

  • Advanced planning. We humans are able to plan ahead. Planting crops for harvests later on. Humans have a ability to trade immediate gratification for long term rewards.
  • Culture innovation and teaching through language. Apes show some signs of rudimentary culture, such as different traditions in the use of tools to crack nuts. But the complex cultures produced by humans societies are unique to our species.Humans are good imitators, they accumulate culture and knowledge over generations.
  • Altruism. Humans can a lend a helping hand to another without expecting anything in return.Chimps, although remarkably cooperative most of the time, do not spontaneously help fellow apes.For what reason do humans engage in spontaneous altruism? Most probably due to the fact that humans are cooperative breeders. Off-spring is also taken care of by other adults such as grandparents, siblings and friends.
  • Social organization and cooperation

This is a very short version of a enjoyable read of an article in Science: Why We’re Different: Probing the Gap Between Apes and Humans.
My interest in Apes and Monkeys besides their valuable contributions to a better understanding of Neuroscience? I was born in the year of the ape according to Chinese Astrology.

Related post on this blog:
What distinguishes us from the chimpanzee? The Ultimate Game.

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research
Balter, M. (2008). HUMAN EVOLUTION: Why We’re Different: Probing the Gap Between Apes and Humans. Science, 319(5862), 404-405. DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5862.404