London, Feb 1: Baby chimps are as bright as human infants, claims a new study. The scientists who carried out the research believe that baby chimps" mental development can even be more advanced than children of the same age.
Scientists at Portsmouth University and Leiden University, Holland reckon that their research provides valuable evidence that chimpanzees, like humans, thrive on social interaction. According to the study, in their early lives, chimps develop along similar lines to people before humans race ahead.
“Nursery-reared chimpanzees . . . exhibited distress (screaming and crying) in those episodes when they were separated from their favourite caregiver and . . . [touched their toys] when their favourite caregiver was present," says the study.
The study has been published in the journal Developmental Psychobiology. Boffins reached the conclusions after analysing the care records of a group of chimpanzees kept at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, reports the Times.
This included observations of their curiosity and powers of recognition. The chimps were reared by humans after being rejected by their mothers. One group was given 4-5 hours a day of individually tailored 'mothering' while the other chimps were given more basic human care.
The scientists found that the cognitive performance at nine months of those which had received the extra care was significantly better than the other group.
They also outperformed infants in orphanages in Greece and Romania and were similar to a typical American baby.