Monday, August 26, 2002

BEHAVIORS IN COMMON

Some behaviors exhibit human qualities
By ERIC SUNDQUIST Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

New knowledge about the richness of animals' behavior has contributed to people's willingness to see nonhumans in a new light -- less as objects to be used and more as fellow beings. Some examples:

Communication: Many apes, such as Zoo Atlanta's orangutan Chantek, can speak through sign language....

Art: ...When it comes to creating pieces, a researcher may have seen the genesis of human art when he noticed a gorilla tracing his shadow on a wall. Many chimps love to paint; some have received glowing reviews from experts who did not know the artist was an ape. Picasso had a chimp painting on his wall.

Culture: Researchers studying monkeys on a Japanese island saw evidence of transmission of learned behavior....

...Cultural toolmaking: Wild chimpanzees have been seen using stone hammers and grooved platforms, which could be mistaken for stone-age people's, to crack hard nuts. It takes youngsters many years of practice and observation to master the nut-cracking operation.

Altruism: There are many examples of apes and other animals putting themselves at risk to save others in their group.