Daily Archives: February 10, 2009

Chimpanzee ‘Congress’ More Efficient than Humans

Missoula, MT -10 Feb. 2009- Staff. “Monkey Business” turns out to have a literal interpretation, as a group of primatologists at the University of Montana have shown that, given the right tools, some monkeys really do mean business.

At the UM primatology lab in Missoula, researchers have successfully organized 100 chimpanzees into a group which can process pieces of paper, each of which indicates through its color and shape different living factors, such as feeding schedules and mating arrangements.  chimps

“Primate social organization is a great deal more complicated than people think,” said Dr. David Love, Principal Investigator and Head of UM’s Primatology Studies department.  “Chimps in particular create lasting bonds and adhere to a strict hierarchy.  In this case, we were able to institute a system of behavorial conditioning that led to the formation of a rudimentary ‘oversight’ group.”

In this case, the hirsuite junior legislators are given packs of the coded paper, which they then sort, evaluate and accept or reject.  The process, punctuated by alternating bursts of hooting and activity and deep, refletive silence, continues to astound primatologists and political scientists alike.

Dr. Roy Conway, a professor of Political Economy at UM serves as an advisor to the project.  “This incredible organization of the chimps is even more impressive when you consider that they are able to democratically organize every facet of their lives at a rate of speed which shames any organized human government,” he said.

Indeed, “meeting” only once every two weeks, the chimps are able to decided what they eat and when, which chimps will mate, where toys and other items are stored in the enclosure, which humans are allowed in the enclosure and over 30 other “bills” in less than 36 hours.  

By contrast, on average the U.S. Senate  takes 10 months to consider and approve a bill.