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Baboons can count just like humans

Last Updated: Saturday, May 4, 2013 - 12:13

Washington: A new study with a troop of zoo baboons and lots of peanuts shows that the ability to understand numbers is shared by man and his primate cousins.

"The human capacity for complex symbolic math is clearly unique to our species," co-author Jessica Cantlon, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester said.

"But where did this numeric prowess come from? In this study we`ve shown that non-human primates also possess basic quantitative abilities. In fact, non-human primates can be as accurate at discriminating between different quantities as a human child," she said.

"This tells us that non-human primates have in common with humans a fundamental ability to make approximate quantity judgments," Cantlon said.

"Humans build on this talent by learning number words and developing a linguistic system of numbers, but in the absence of language and counting, complex math abilities do still exist," she added.

The findings are published online in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology.


First Published: Saturday, May 4, 2013 - 12:13
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