Jul 3, 2013

Orangutans’ cognitive abilities

Orangutans are on equal cognitive footing with African apes, or even surpass them on some tasks. For those in zoos that have contact with humans, they not only learn how to communicate their thoughts with abstract keyboard symbols, but also demonstrate a “theory of mind” (understanding another individual's perspective) and to make logical and thoughtful choices that show a mental flexibility some chimpanzees lack. In the wild, orangutans keep innovative cultural traditions. Some groups construct foraging tools for extracting insects from tree holes, others use leaves as rain hats or napkins, wad them up as pillows, or line their hands with them when climbing a spiky tree. And in rare instances orangutans will twist leaves into bundles and cradle them like dolls. (National Geographic)