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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 13:07 GMT
Chimps 'dependent on role models'
A mother and baby chimpanzee
The study examined the behaviour of chimpanzees
Chimpanzees are more dependent on role models than children, according to a study by the University of St Andrews.

Scientists from the Scottish Primate Research Group compared chimps with 40 nursery-aged children from Fife.

They found that chimps, like children, could learn from results of actions alone if the task was simple.

However, the research indicated that over time chimpanzees only conformed to behaviour they saw repeated by a live group-mate.

The research aimed to determine whether a species emulates, imitates or displays a simpler form of observational learning.

Behaviour patterns

Experiments included chimpanzees watching a companion operate a screen to gain food.

Dr Lydia Hopper at the University of St Andrews said: "This provided the first evidence that chimpanzees, like children, can learn from results of actions alone if the task is sufficiently simple.

"However, unlike children, over time the chimpanzees conformed to what they saw only if it was repeated by a live group-mate.

"These results may have implications for the cultural transmission of behaviour patterns."

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