See Inside Scientific American Volume 311, Issue 3

What Makes Humans Different Than Any Other Species

The capacity to engage in shared tasks such as hunting large game and building cities may be what separated modern humans from our primate cousins

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At a psychology laboratory in Leipzig, Germany, two toddlers eye gummy bears that lie on a board beyond their reach. To get the treats, both tots must pull in tandem on either end of a rope. If only one child pulls, the rope detaches, and they wind up with nothing.

A few miles away, in a plexiglass enclosure at Pongoland, the ape facility at the Leipzig Zoo, researchers repeat the identical experiment, but this time with two chimpanzees. If the primates pass the rope-and-board test, each one gets a fruit treat.

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