July 5, 2007

Are you smarter than an Orang-Utan?

Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Biology, Education, Evolution, Fun, Humor, Life, Nature, Science at 8:24 am by deadlikeme

orangutan.jpgIt has recently been shown that Orang-Utans are capable of using water as a tool to solve a “nutty” problem.

Five Orang-Utans were confronted with a vertical, transparent tube with a peanut floating deep down inside, well out of reach. The primates filled their mouth with water from a drink dispenser and spat it into the tube, thus raising the water level. It took them an average of nine minutes to come up with this idea.

Natascha Mendes and colleagues at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany were inpspired by a more than 2000 year old story (by the greek poet Aesop) about a crow throwing stones into a pitcher to raise the water level until it was high enough for drinking.

How long would it have taken you to solve the problem? More than nine minutes? Come on, be honest!

Try this experiment on friends or relatives. Put a peanut in a tall glas and tell them to get it out, of course without tilting or even touching the glass.

The New Scientist article has a short video of this experiment.

The original article was published in Biology Letters.

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