Animal Smarts – Cooperation
Music; Ambiance: Rainforest
Hare: “So one of the things that we do is we go look at animals and we try to understand why is it that they don’t do all the things that we do.”
Are human beings all that different from animals? Let’s go have a catch and find out. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Brian Hare is an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University.
Hare: “Sometimes we find out actually they are really different from us. One of the things is that you’re very good at cooperating. So you work together with people all the time where you’re being helpful and you’re cooperating. Of course there are fun examples like playing catch. You’re throwing a ball back and forth with somebody and it’s really fun and you’re doing it together! Well it ends up that we’ve tried to play catch with other animals- so think of a chimpanzee or a gorilla or an orangutan- these are great apes and they like to play and they’re very smart. But if you try to play catch or if you try to have them play catch with each other they can’t do it. The reason is because they don’t cooperate the way that we do. So when they do things together it’s not like you and me. When we play catch together we’re having fun by the fact we’re doing it together. But when a gorilla or a chimpanzee or an orangutan does something together, they think of another individual just like they think of a screwdriver or a hammer. I need that to get the thing that I want. But when you and I are playing catch, we’re just having fun together. So I’m not playing catch with somebody because if I don’t have that person there I can’t play catch, because, I could just throw a tennis ball against the wall and it would bounce off the wall! I don’t need anybody! But I’d much rather play with a person. And it’s because we like to do things together. So this is one of the things we’ve really discovered about humans and isn’t the same when we look at even our closest relatives in the animal world.”
Besides us, there is an animal that likes to have a catch ad we’ll find out why in our next program. Brian Hare is one of the participants in the Kids’ Science Challenge, our nationwide competition for third to sixth graders, made possible by the National Science Foundation. Check out kidsciencechallenge.com.