Chimpanzees recognize their own skulls

is it for real? Kyoto University says yes, and managed to prove it. Chimpanzees recognize their own skulls. It was already known that they interact with dead members of their species They also revisit corpses and even show mourning behavior. But this?

Chimpanzees recognize their own skulls.
Chimpanzees recognize their own skulls.

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It is believed that they have no knowledge of their skeletal anatomy. That is the object of the new research. “We used images of faces, skulls and skull-shaped stones. They represent four different species,” says the study’s lead author, André Gonçalves.

Chimpanzee skulls possess signs similar to faces. There is the general arrangement of eyes, nose and teeth. Apparently, it activates a network of brain regions evolved to detect and process faces. In other words: chimpanzees seem to know when a skull looks like a chimpanzee skull. It is related to the phenomenon of pareidolia. This is the brain’s ability to detect faces.

“This explains why we see illusory faces in things like clouds and rocks. Primate skulls are as much like faces as anything in nature,” adds Gonçalves.

Apparently, they recognize what looks like them.
Apparently, they recognize that which resembles them.


The findings, which are published in Royal Society Open Science, were consistent with previous experiments. African elephants showed more interest in skulls and tusks than in any other stimuli. But the mechanisms might not have been the same. “Chimpanzee skulls do retain general facial features,” he says.

To test their hypotheses about chimpanzee visual attention, Gonçalves and his team conducted a series of three experiments using an eye tracker to map exactly where chimpanzees look and for how long.

The results tell. Chimps recognize their own skulls. Or at least, it powerfully catches their attention. It is not clear whether they “know” that it is a symbol of death.

“What if a wild chimpanzee finds a skull? It will be attentive to it like no other inanimate object in its environment.Why? Because it looks like one of his own,” Gonçalves concludes.

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