They are thought of as the mischief-makers of the animal kingdom. But baby chimps are less of a handful than their human cousins. If a young chimp is in tears, it is quickly calmed by a cuddle, research shows.
This is in sharp contrast to human babies, who, as any sleep-deprived parent will know, often continue to cry, and cry, and cry.
It is thought that the chimp’s more primitive brain matures more quickly, making them better-behaved ‘children’ – at least up to the age of three months.
Researcher Professor Kim Bard told the British Science Festival: ‘If you pick up a baby chimp when it is fussing (crying), it calms down and stays calm.
‘Anybody who has had a fussing child knows it is well within the range of the human norm that you pick them up and they are still fussing.
‘Chimps don’t get colic, they don’t have inconsolable crying for no reason.
‘You usually pick them up and give them a cuddle and they don’t make a fuss and don’t cry any more.
‘But chimps are really consolable. They seem to have better control of their behavioural traits when they’re young.’
The Portsmouth University researcher is studying the facial expressions of young chimps.
She has already shown they have 16 different smiles – in contrast to human babies who only manage 13 sorts of grin.
Further work will focus on the precise meaning of each smile in the chimp repertoire.
The professor said: ‘Chimpanzees, like humans, might use different facial configurations to express or to communicate subtleties in emotion.
‘I am really interested in the evolutionary basis of emotion, focussing on what apes and humans have in common, which gives us information of the 23million years of shared evolutionary history, in contrast to most people who focus on the last five million years in which there was a clear divergence.’
Via Daily Mail