From hominoid to hominid mind: What changed and why?
The living great apes, and in particular members of the genus Pan, help test hypotheses regarding the cognitive skills of our extinct common ancestor. Research with chimpanzees suggests that we share some but not all of our abilities to model another's perspective in social interactions. Large-scale comparisons among human infants, bonobos, chimpanzees, and orangutans on both social and physical problem-solving tasks demonstrate that human infants are unique for their early emerging social cognitive skills, which facilitate participation in cultural interactions. Comparisons between bonobos and chimpanzees also reveal cognitive differences that are likely due to developmental shifts. These comparative studies suggest that our species' capabilities to assess the psychological states of others are built on those abilities that were present in our last common ape ancestor and were derived, in part, owing to shifts in cognitive ontogeny that likely account for species differences among other apes as well. © 2011 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.
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