What's Baby Got That Chimps Don't?

Study pits toddlers against primates to see how human brains are different
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2007 12:05 PM CDT
A chimpanzee, one of the three primate species that took part in the study.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – What makes humans smarter than their primate relatives? Into the ongoing debate comes a new study that concludes it's not just size, it's the particular kind of computing power. A study matching human toddlers with chimps and orangutans compared their performance on a battery of different kinds of tasks. The children were no better at "physical learning" —i.e. finding hidden objects—but miles ahead in "social learning."

Kids excelled at tasks that involved learning by watching someone else, figuring out someone else's state of mind, or using nonverbal communication to explain something, Time reports. This specific kind of social intelligence may be just as important to the evolutionary success of humans as having more raw brainpower, concludes the study published in Science.