[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Conscious planning for the future was thought to be a cognitive behavior unique to humans. Not anymore. Researchers in Sweden have found a zoo chimp that's clearly been making plans. They watched him for a decade and came to an inescapable conclusion. He was stocking up on stones to throw at visitors. The research was published in the March 9 issue of Current Biology.
When the chimp first got to the zoo, he didn't throw many stones. But the few times he did got quite a reaction. And his rate of stone throwing picked up. Researchers swept the chimp’s area and found caches of stones. Then a caretaker hid and watched the chimp collect stones to throw later. Eventually the chimp tapped at concrete structures to break off pieces to throw.
The researchers say this behavior is different from, say, a chimp using a stick to collect termites to eat. That could be just meeting an immediate need. But the stone thrower is clearly and calmly planning ahead. Which means that chimps probably have an inner life much as we do. They can review past events and plan for the future. Which probably doesn't include any glass houses.
For the whole story on Santino the chimpanzee, please see our post, Planning of the Apes: Zoo Chimp Plots Rock Attacks on Visitors.