Sumatran orangutans plan their trips through the Indonesian jungle in advance, according to a new paper published in PLOS ONE that once again upends humans's uniqueness in the animal kingdom.
Sumatran orangutans plan their trips through the Indonesian jungle in advance, according to a new paper published in PLOS ONE. The new research upends yet again the belief that humans are unique in the animal kingdom, suggesting that orangutans, like humans, can plan for the future, at least to some degree.
“There are many scientists (mainly working on human cognition) assuming that only humans are capable of thinking about the future,” said Karin Isler, a researcher at the Anthropological Institute and Museum in Zurich, Switzerland and a co-author on the paper, said in an email interview.
But, according to this latest research, that isn’t the case, with orangutans joining us in planning their routes with forward-thinking aplomb – and without the gentle guidance of Apple’s Siri.
Orangutans, the red-haired, big-bellied primates, have often roiled prevailing theories of what makes a human a human, flagrantly displaying abilities that remind us of, well, us.
In a 2003 paper, published in Science, researchers reported that orangutans exhibited what could be construed as “culture,” proposing that separate groups of animals’ unique rituals were not just adaptive strategies suited to their different environments, but were cultural practices. Then, a 2006 paper, also published in Science, found that captive orangutans and chimpanzees can choose and store tools and then remember to use them 14 hours later.