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Chimpanzee Intelligence Largely Determined By Genetics157

Posted by timothy
from the why-I'll-be-a-smart-monkey's-uncle dept.
As reported by National Geographic, intelligence in chimpanzees appears to be strongly heritable, according to research led by William Hopkins, a primatologist at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia, who examined both genetic and environmental factors for a group of related chimpanzees with varying measured intelligence: To find out how much of that variability is due to genetics, Hopkins and his team assessed the cognitive abilities of 99 captive chimpanzees. They used a battery of 13 tests measuring various manifestations of intelligence, such as how the animals dealt with the physical world, reacted to sound, and used tools. The group of chimps tested had an expansive family tree, ranging from full siblings to fourth and fifth cousins. This allowed the researchers to calculate how well scores on cognitive traits aligned with genetic relatedness. Two categories of tasks were significantly heritable: those related to spatial cognition, such as learning physical locations, and those that required social cognition, such as grabbing a person's attention. Some chimps are quite clever, making kissing sounds or clapping their hands to draw an experimenter's attention, Hopkins said. "This one is a real measure of intelligence and innovative behavior."
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Chimpanzee Intelligence Largely Determined By Genetics

• This Chimanzee video amazed me... (Score:5, Interesting)

on Saturday July 12, 2014 @06:30PM (#47439871)

...Anyone agree? Have a look...

• Re:This Chimanzee video amazed me... (Score:4, Insightful)

on Saturday July 12, 2014 @07:11PM (#47440097)

You'll have to do some diging, because I don't remember where I saw it... but they now understand why they are so good at that kind of task. It has to do with "working memory" and some other kind of memory that we're good at. I forget which, but having working memory that good would actually hinder us. The chimps have their plan DONE in their mind when they start pressing buttons. They do not need to be able to see the numbers anymore, because they no longer matter. The chimp saw the numbers, decided a course of action and executed. Humans on the other hand decide what to do for each key press. We make a new judgement call and continue. This is what makes us so creative. If something were to happen to the numbers, like they get rearranged we'd still be about as good. It's just as much work for us to deal with the new state as the old. The chimps on the other hand would have to stat over. This is, at least how I remember it. I'd research if you're really interested.

• but i thought we are all equal? (Score:4, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2014 @06:31PM (#47439875)

are you telling the stuff the jew professors at college told me about german engineers and black welfare moms being equal was a lie? why would they do such a thing?

• Re: (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

Of course not, this experiment is just proof that social conditioning affects chimpanzee too.

• Re: (Score:2)

That's so true.

Like my post on Facebook if you approve.

• Re: (Score:2)

The funniest joke in history is hiding here, But I can't see it because of the N2O.

• Meanwhile In Humans... (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

...we're lead to believe with enough money for education everyone can be intelligent!

• Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

Mass education isn't about making the masses of goyim more equal or intelligent. It's about breaking them away from the authority of their parents, selling them the opiate of "equality" and making them serve the will and authority of the modern state. It helps to increase tax revenues, thus enriching the elite. Nothing more or less.

Now serve your masters, goy.

• Re: (Score:2)

It's about breaking them away from the authority of their parents, selling them the opiate of "equality" and making them serve the will and authority of the modern state.

Totally. Because that's way more effective than keeping them ignorant, beating them over the head with a bible, and making them work in the fields and factories until they drop while being supervised and subjugated by an elite class chosen from the "nobility".

Oh, wait ...

• Re:Meanwhile In Humans... (Score:4, Insightful)

on Saturday July 12, 2014 @07:20PM (#47440133)

I'll feed this troll.

...we're lead to believe with enough money for education everyone can be intelligent!

Appropriate general education ensures that we all have a chance to get to a certain level. Surely some people are more intelligent than others at baseline, but like most characteristics it needs to be exercised and developed... in the absence of education, it's easy to waste what you were born with, and that's what general education tries to prevent - the waste of intelligence. The other important role of education is to ensure that no matter what your level of education, you receive instruction sufficient to let you integrate into society.

• Re: (Score:2)

I'll feed this troll.

...we're lead to believe with enough money for education everyone can be intelligent!

Appropriate general education ensures that we all have a chance to get to a certain level. Surely some people are more intelligent than others at baseline, but like most characteristics it needs to be exercised and developed... in the absence of education, it's easy to waste what you were born with, and that's what general education tries to prevent - the waste of intelligence. The other important role of education is to ensure that no matter what your level of education, you receive instruction sufficient to let you integrate into society.

Thought experiment: if we had perfect education, whatever that might be, then the only differences in the per-person outcome would be due to individual aptitude.

Think there wouldn't be differences?

• Re: (Score:2)

You might also need to eliminate caste effects--as far as we know, a uniquely human thing that may affect the expression of base intelligence.
• Re: (Score:2)

Of course there would be. That's not the point, and not at all what I was talking about. General education ensures that a person at level 1 with aptitude for level 5 under perfect conditions, can get as close as possible to level 5. Or are you having trouble reading?

• Re: (Score:3)

Who claimed that?

With enough money to get you into the right schools you can get the best jobs, but that has little if anything to do with intelligence. Or education for that matter.

• The study you won't see on Slashdot... (Score:1, Informative)

by Anonymous Coward
• In Other News (Score:5, Funny)

on Saturday July 12, 2014 @06:40PM (#47439933)

A chimpanzee named Fred was eaten by a tiger after recklessly clapping his hands and making kissing sounds, attracting the tiger's attention.

Other members of the troop were unanimous in describing Fred as "not the sharpest stick in the jungle".

• Re: (Score:3)

But the following day, a bunch of pink, hairless apes wiped out the rest of the troop, because they were bored and chimps looked ugly to them.

However, Bob was spared because he kept clapping his hands and making kissing sounds, which the murderous homo sapiens found cute and adorable.

• The hightest correlation... (Score:1)

... is to the A112 virus. But you knew that.

• Some chimps are quite clever (Score:2)

They demonstrated a novel argument for why there are no hidden variables and that the statistical descriptions of quantum mechanics reflect reality accurately.

• Humans too (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

Universities suspected this with humans also and did published research on it; Most of which has quietly been removed because it's not politically correct to show Asians have a 10pt higher IQ on average than white person(me), and 'other numbers'.

Interestingly enough true genius seems quite random, can have a long history of average parents etc and them produce someone quite gifted.

• Re: (Score:2)

are you talking about that movie where iceman uses a satellite with frickin lasers to fill some dude's house with popcorn?

• Exciting Times (Score:1)

I am looking forward to Hollywood's announcement of a breeding program for intelligent chimps in order to cut costs on future productions of Planet of the Apes.

By the way, the study seems to indicate that trees are only as intelligent as their genes allow it to be, but specialised breeding could lead to intelligent plants. But for now, crossing a human with a flower may not result in a talking flower, though it still could be a pretty looking flower.

• Re: (Score:2)

crossing a human with a flower may not result in a talking flower

Probably a screaming flower writhing in anguish if sci-fi authors are sufficiently prescient.

• Re: (Score:2)

But for now, crossing a human with a flower may not result in a talking flower, though it still could be a pretty looking flower.

For some reason, this very scenario [wikia.com] is present in two games of the Sims series.

• Re: (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

Actually they succeeded. You can see the results in Detroit, among other places.

• Largely Determined By Genetics... (Score:1)

... although factors like scholarity and religious affiliation also play a role

• And in politically correct news (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

Human intelligence has absolutely nothing to do with genetics and everyone is equal.

• haha! (Score:1)

HAHA
- Nelson Muntz and Eric Raymond
• Don't use the M-word! (Score:2)

"why-I'll-be-a-smart-monkey's-uncle dept."

Ooooook!

• Furthermore: (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

Human intelligence may also be significantly determined by genetics...

** WOO WOO WOOO **

Sorry people, the person who posted the above sentence has been arrested for politically incorrect statements. Pointing out statistics and scientific studies is racist. He won't ever be bothering you again.

• Next question (Score:1)

I am sure "Is it gender linked/dominated/driven?" would be asked next
• Intelligence isn't always advantageous (Score:5, Interesting)

on Saturday July 12, 2014 @08:00PM (#47440287)

The corollary here is that intelligence isn't always an advantage. Or else all chimps would have evolved human class intelligence. The question I'd like answered is, what natural advantages does innate stupidity confer upon a creature that enables it to spread its just as efficiently or even bettera than an intelligent creature. Maybe the neurons required to be good at puzzle solving and the like are subtracted from the total needed for street or jungle "smarts".

• Re:Intelligence isn't always advantageous (Score:5, Informative)

on Saturday July 12, 2014 @08:25PM (#47440353)

The usual explanation is that large, active brains use lots of energy, which in some environments is better spent gathering bananas.

• Re: (Score:2)

Yes, gathering bananas and chasing tail. Intelligence does not increase your reproductive fitness past some baseline number, as a result we see regression to the mean. Why mean? Because it used to be optimal. It still might be optimal, because you don't see driven, successful people out-reproducing average bears.
• Re: (Score:2)

Intelligence does not increase your reproductive fitness past some baseline number, as a result we see regression to the mean.

I disagree.

Intelligence has improved out survival to such a degree, that you don't need to reproduce as much as an average bear to successfully pass on your genes.

Survival is not just about fucking more. As a matter of fact, having 5 children is counter-productive because they consume so much resources and require so much care. If your one child survives into adulthood, finds a mate and successfully breeds, then your evolutionary duty is done. Any more and you are introducing stress on to the environment to

• Re: (Score:2)

You missed the important part in GP's claim: "past some baseline number".

And that may actually well be true. There's one interesting tidbit that came out of anthropological studies: apparently, earliest homo sapiens sapiens had a better developed brain than we do. This implies, at least indirectly, that they were better at core cognitive tasks (such as pattern matching) that seem to be underlying what we think of as "intelligence". In other words, if you took such an early human and put him in a modern worl

• Re: (Score:2)

But there is still an upper cap defined by energy requirements, and apparently we have actually hit that cap thousands of years ago already, and then bounced back slightly.

Ah, but there's a difference now compared to then. We have the ability, at least in the developed world, to push again past the old cap, which originally existed in a natural environment. Who knows if the modern environment would actually select for higher intelligence in practice to do it, but the possibility is there with modern resources.

• Re: (Score:2)

Oh, sure, Of course, we have essentially redefined what "natural selection" even means (we didn't remove it entirely, as some people claim - but we did prioritize sexual selection over all other forms).

• Re: (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

Yes, in some instances, aggression and dominance are better for gene propagation. (see humans)

• Re: (Score:1)

As are their opposites for gene propagation. Or else aggression would hypertrophy, which it doesn't.
• Re: (Score:2)

It has to do with the survival pressures that are being experienced. If they are relatively static over time, rote learning (or instincts) can provide survival.

Homo Sapiens moved about and had varied survival pressures, to which they adapted. Higher intelligence was one of the adaptations, as was bipedal movement.

DNA expresses a variety of aspects leading to its own survival, be they sexual, defensive, or offensive in nature. DNA survives, the individuals carrying it do not.

• Re: (Score:3)

Reproduction in intelligent creatures has always been a hack from lower systems. Very few intelligent creatures have as their mind's objective to reproduce as much as possible, and increasing intelligence means it's that much easier to find loopholes in the lower systems, or exert self-control over them. It probably isn't a simple thing to set as the intelligent creature's objective to propagate its genes, with the requisite math (relatives share your genes to some extent), and the proper mate selection cri

• Re: (Score:2)

The corollary here is that intelligence isn't always an advantage. Or else all chimps would have evolved human class intelligence.

A palaeontologist interviewed here on Slashdot pointed out that this sort of logic only works for the apex predator, and the apex herbivore. They are constantly in a struggle to be the 'best.' For other species, you can find all kinds of weird evolutions as they find their niche in the world.

• Re: (Score:2)

This assumes that chimps aren't on their way there. However, without understanding how intelligence first arose in humans or what in our genes is responsible for it, there's no good way to determine what it would take chimps to get there other than enough time.

Also, what makes you think that stupidity has advantages? That humans exist on every continent on Earth and will probably have moved off planet within a thousand years and likely will have a least tried to move out of our solar system in the next t
• Re: (Score:2)

The corollary here is that intelligence isn't always an advantage. Or else all chimps would have evolved human class intelligence.

In my opinion, intelligence is always an advantage and the more the better. It is just that the random changes of natural selection did not favour the chimps. They were lucky enough to get enough intelligence to be fairly high up on the food chain. Evolution is not guided and does not get the best result.

• So this is how scientists research intelligence (Score:3, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2014 @08:01PM (#47440289)

So this is how scientists research intelligence without hurting the feelings of people who believe everyone on the planet is as smart (individually or collectively) as everyone else on the planet. They study chimps. They publish their results. Left unmentioned is whether their conclusions might have parallels for the human race, but the fact that they specifically studied the acknowledged closest-related species says it for them. After all, drugs are developed by testing much further-removed animals like rats, and it's a process that seems to work great.

If these scientists had tried to study intelligence in humans, well, let's just say they'd have been doing it on their own dime, and their results would have been largely dismissed.

• Re: (Score:2)

So this is how scientists research intelligence without hurting the feelings of people

No. This is how the commoners discuss scientific results. Scientists have published similar results on humans many times before.
There is a mountain of published data on heritability, and on national, racial, and gender differences.
We might not be able to talk about it in polite circles, but the science is there.

[nt]
• This just in! (Score:4, Informative)

on Saturday July 12, 2014 @08:45PM (#47440423) Journal

This just in, intelligence also highly heritable in humans. Only it isn't politically correct to talk about.

• Re: (Score:1)

Yes, that's why Einstein's parents and grandparents were world reknowned scientists.

• Re: (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

you see that chimp over there good sir? yes? good. he's smarter than you, try to learn something from him.

• Re:This just in! (Score:4, Insightful)

on Saturday July 12, 2014 @11:32PM (#47440865) Homepage

His father was an electrical engineer, but maybe he knew that a single data point is irrelevant in statistics.

• Re: (Score:2)

Oh okay, you've got a list of exceptionally intelligent people with a long list of increasingly intelligent ancestors handy, yes? We aren't chimpanzees and we have no clear idea what intelligence is in the first place is, so claiming it's a highly hereditary trait is... not terribly intelligent.

• control (Score:2)

I assume all the chimps in the experiment were hand reared from birth.

• genetics and intelligence was there ever doubt? (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

Humans are the silliest peoples.

• Learned Behavior can be Passed On (Score:3, Interesting)

on Saturday July 12, 2014 @09:18PM (#47440505) Homepage Journal
Can't remember whether I saw this on /. or another news site, but the cutting edge research on evolution has been called "neo Lamarckism". Intelligence itself can be passed on genetically. A recent "Epigenetic inheritance" study showed that mice who were taught to associate an odor with danger had baby mice who reacted strongly to the same odor. http://www.sciencedaily.com/re... [sciencedaily.com] (Science Daily 12/2013). It may be that learning or education "triggers" latent genes. Lamarck may not turn out to be a Tesla, but Darwin is unfinished business.
• *CLAP* * CLAP* Smooches! (Score:2)

Ha! Got your attention!
• Intelligence is not heritable (Score:2)

The capacity to become intelligent is.
• Re: (Score:2)

The capacity to become intelligent is.

Pointless word-play. You could say the same about height or hair-colour.

• Planet of the, um (Score:2)

So now we could breed up a strain of highly intelligent chimpanzees by selecting new parents from the highest scoring chimps?

• Hereditary=genetics? (Score:2)

Hereditary=genetics? What kind of a gross over-simplification is that? "Like in Humans, Genes Drive Half of Chimp Intelligence"? Genes don't drive human intelligence. They determine the upper and lower limits that can be achieved with proper nutrition, care and education and a multitude of other factors. More and more factors are being discovered everyday, each diminishing the role of genetics.
http://pss.sagepub.com/content... [sagepub.com]
http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb... [apa.org]

• Genetics and heritability are not the same (Score:1)

Quoting an insightful comment on TFA: [quote] It is simply wrong to state that intelligence is 50% genetic and 50% environmental. This is probably the most common misconception about the meaning of the term "heritability". Heritability does NOT measure what fraction of a trait is genetic. It measures how much genetic variability contributes to the variability of that trait in that population. This sounds like a subtle distinction, but it is MAJOR. First of all, consider a thought experiment. What woul
• Re: (Score:1)

For an associate professor, you're not so good with explaining concepts. What you need is an example of genetic variance in a population of sheep and an example of environmental variance, that fits with ordinary reality. As the influence of environmental variance approaches zero, the additional nuance of the environment's influence on genetic variation is insignificant.
• The actual study has somewhat different conclusion (Score:3)

on Sunday July 13, 2014 @07:38AM (#47441923) Homepage

Some meta-analysis of the actual study, along with some examination of how the media has generally thoroughly misrepresented the study, is available at Language Log [upenn.edu].

Thus Component 1 (23.6% of test variance) was significantly heritable — h2 = 0.538. The symbol h2 is used to denote "narrow-sense heritability", which is the ratio between the variance due to average effects of alleles, and the phenotypic variance as a whole:

$$h^2 = \frac{Var(A)}{Var(P)}$$

In other words, about half of the variance in a PCA component accounting for about a quarter of the variance in test results was accounted for by genetic variation.

Component 3 (10.8% of test variance) was also significantly heritable, with h2 = 0.335. Thus about a third of the variance in a PCA component accounting for about a tenth of the variance in test results was accounted for by genetic variation.

The genetic relationships of components 2 (11.7 of test-score variance) and 4 (8.2% of test-score variance) were not statistically significant.

A quarter plus a tenth of the test results were shown to be related at all (not in whole, but at all) to heritable traits. The grand total overall was just under 16% (a half of a quarter, plus a third of a tenth).

Now, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't describe 16% as "largely". I'd describe 16% as "partly", or "mildly", or "somewhat". But of course, reporters for Nat'l Geo and The Independent and the like aren't big on math.

It's still an interesting and intriguing study, of course, but so grossly misreported that it boggles the mind. We need a better grade of chimpanzee writing science articles for the general public! :D

Idiocracy?

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