We recently reported that scientists think humans should try behaving more like our close cousins, the chimpanzees. In some ways we already do: chimp females learn faster than males, the same thing that happens with humans.
Shaoni Bhattacharya writes in New Scientist that young female chimps are faster and better learners than young males. While young male chimps spend their time playing, young females carefully study their mothers and learn how to use twigs to fish for termites two years before the males do. Any elementary school teacher will be familiar with a similar phenomenon among humans.
Researcher Elizabeth Lonsdorf says, “A sex-based learning difference may therefore date back at least to the last common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans.”
While the females perfect their termite techniques, males roughhouse with each other around the termite mound. Scientists speculate that this kind of play may develop techniques that will come in handy later on, when adult males strive for dominance over one another. Lonsdorf says, “The young of both sexes seem to pursue activities related to their adult sex roles at a very young age.”
For Anne’s new show Mysterious Powers, she picked a theme by one of her favorite female composers.
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