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Chimps play like humans: Playful behavior of young chimps develops like that of children

Date:
November 17, 2011
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Playful behavior is widespread in mammals, and has important developmental consequences. A recent study of young chimpanzees shows that these animals play and develop much the same way as human children. The work can therefore also shed light on the role of human play behavior.

Young chimpanzee.
Credit: Kitch Bain / Fotolia

Playful behavior is widespread in mammals, and has important developmental consequences. A recent study of young chimpanzees shows that these animals play and develop much the same way as human children.

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The work, published in the Nov. 16 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE, can therefore also shed light on the role of human play behavior.

The authors of the study, Elisabetta Palagi and Giada Cordoni, of the University of Pisa in Italy, found that chimpanzee solitary play peaks in infancy, while the time spent in social play was relatively constant between infants and juveniles. However, the type of social play changed quite a bit as the animals grew up, in terms of measures like complexity and playmate choice. In comparing these behaviors to previous work conducted with humans, they found that both species show significant quantitative and qualitative development in play behavior from infancy to juvenility.

Moreover, both chimps and humans consistently use playful facial expressions to communicate and build social networks. They also analyzed playmate choice and found that both humans and chimps prefer peers for play partners. Dr. Palagi explains that this is the first research comparing the ontogeny of play behavior in chimpanzees with that of humans, in a standardized way. It is important, because this kind of human data often comes from psychological research, not from ethological research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Giada Cordoni, Elisabetta Palagi. Ontogenetic Trajectories of Chimpanzee Social Play: Similarities with Humans. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (11): e27344 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027344

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Chimps play like humans: Playful behavior of young chimps develops like that of children." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116174735.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2011, November 17). Chimps play like humans: Playful behavior of young chimps develops like that of children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116174735.htm
Public Library of Science. "Chimps play like humans: Playful behavior of young chimps develops like that of children." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116174735.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

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