A charity in America is campaigning to get chimpanzees recognised as ‘persons’, giving them basic human rights. But with rights come responsibilities. Could a chimp ever be guilty of a human crime such as murder? Join primatologist Lewis Dean to examine what we know about the mental abilities of our closest evolutionary cousins.
The questions Lewis will pose are hot topics of research in modern psychology. And topics where not all researchers agree. Are chimps able to plan? Does a chimp possess any of the morals that govern human behaviour? Could chimps have any idea that their group-mates think like they do? Do chimps have cultural norms? How similar are chimps and humans?
Researchers are interested in these topics because they teach us about the evolution of intelligence and cognition. By comparing the skills of different species we can piece together how animals deal with their environments, how they think and the way that they perceive the world around them. It allows us to shed light on how skills might have evolved right across the animal kingdom, including in the species that is, arguably, most reliant on its own technology and culture – humans.