Chimp intelligence: New developments

Planet of the Apes depicts a world where humans are taken over by super-intelligent chimps, gorillas and orangutans. While that is incredibly unlikely to happen, we are discovering more about chimp intelligence on a daily basis.


Chimpanzees use tools, but they choose their tools according to their task. They choose lighter tools to crack nuts on trees and heavier tools to crack nuts on the ground. This means that they anticipate future events when they choose a tool. That’s big.


Foraging chimps change their calls depending on how much food they find. They give different calls when they come across different fruits, and they subtly alter their calls depending on how large the tree is. More chimps responded to calls about larger trees, meaning they understand that the trip will be worth their time.


Groups of chimpanzees show cultural differences, even groups that are next-door neighbours. Different chimp societies use tools differently, use different hunting and foraging strategies and even interact with one another differently. Just like human groups live in separate cultures, chimps alter their behaviour according to their social group.


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