Written by sciencedaily.com Wednesday, 29 December 2010 14:40
Researchers have reported some of the first evidence that chimpanzee youngsters in the wild may tend to play differently depending on their sex, just as human children around the world do.
Scientists at Harvard University and Bates College say female chimpanzees appear to treat sticks as dolls, carrying them around until they have offspring of their own. Young males engage in such behavior much less frequently.
The new work by Sonya M. Kahlenberg and Richard W. Wrangham, described this week in the journal Current Biology, provides the first suggestive evidence of a wild nonhuman species playing with rudimentary dolls, as well as the first known sex difference in a wild animal’s choice of playthings.
The two researchers say their work adds to a growing body of evidence that human children are probably born with their own ideas of how they want to behave, rather than simply mirroring other girls who play with dolls and boys who play with trucks. Doll play among humans could have its origins in object-carrying by earlier apes, they say, suggesting that toy selection is probably not due entirely to socialization.