ANIMALS OTHER than humans and apes are able to reason, scientists have discovered.
Experiments show that baboons are capable of abstract reasoning even though their understanding of concepts is less distinct than that of a human.
Two baboons, taught to use a computer by French and American researchers, could recognise that detailed sets of images were either the same or different. The researchers found that while the baboons' ability to reason was not "an intellectual forte" it was within their capabilities - the first time an animal other than a human or an ape has proved able to reason.
The scientists said the results raised the possibility that other species might also be more human in their thinking.
Writing in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, the scientists said: "Analogical thinking and its possible precursors may well be found in non-human animals, if only we assiduously look for them."
Scientists have already shown that chimpanzees, a type of ape, can think in an abstract way, but the research has implications for theories of the evolution of man's intelligence because there is a much wider gap between humans and baboons. Baboons belong to a different primate family that split from the group that formed humans and apes 30 million years ago.
The team of scientists, led by Dr Joel Fagot, from the Centre of Research in Cognitive Neuroscience in Marseilles, and Dr Edward Wasserman, from the University of Iowa, trained a male and female baboon to use a computer and joystick to select different grids of pictures. …