Chimpanzee Intelligence Is Gene Dependent
    By News Staff | July 10th 2014 01:30 PM | 7 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    As with people, some chimpanzees are smarter than others, and as with people, a lot of that variation in intelligence depends on the genes that individuals carry and pass on from one generation to the next.

    A new study found no effect of either sex or rearing history on the cognitive skills of chimpanzees. That is, chimpanzees raised by human caretakers performed no better on cognitive tests delivered to them by humans than did individuals raised by their chimpanzee mothers.

    The role of genetics in intelligence has long been debated in scientific circles, the researchers say. It is now clear from previous studies that humans' performances on IQ tests do depend to a large extent on genetics, even if it can be modified by environmental factors. But the role that genes play in animal intelligence had received considerably less attention.

    The new study included data on the cognitive abilities of 99 chimpanzees in all, from age 9 to 54. The researchers' analysis found that about 50% of the variation in the chimps' performance on a series of standardized cognitive tests could be attributed to genetic factors.

    "As is the case in humans, genes matter when it comes to cognitive abilities in chimpanzees," says William Hopkins of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. "It doesn't mean that they are the only factor determining cognitive abilities, but they cannot be ignored."

    Studies of chimpanzees could add significantly to scientists' understanding of intelligence, the researchers say. That's in part because, unlike humans, chimpanzee performance on cognitive tests isn't complicated by factors related to school systems or other sociocultural complexities.

    The findings suggest that differences in cognition may have arisen in the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees about 5 million years ago. The findings may also lead to the discovery of particular intelligence-related genes.

    "What specific genes underlie the observed individual differences in cognition is not clear, but pursuing this question may lead to candidate genes that changed in human evolution and allowed for the emergence of some human-specific specializations in cognition," Hopkins says. "It is also intriguing to consider what changes in cortical organization might be associated with individual differences in cognition and whether common genes might explain their common variance."

     Published in Current Biology.
    Source: Cell Press


    If you can't bring yourself to read the article, at least read the entire synopsis, which states "We found that some but not all cognitive traits were significantly heritable in chimpanzees." Specifically (read the article) spatial and social cognition are inherited, but discerning causality and using tools are not.

    To paraphrase Blake, these researchers are holding a candle in sunshine.

    Why does this "scientific discovery" seem so painfully obvious? Anyone else annoyed that we are just now confirming this in 2014? What was the other side of the argument, that monkey's gain their intelligence from monkey universities hidden deep in the amazon?

    Yes, Amazon U [known locally as Amazing U]. I agree, that it is intuitively obvious that basic brain functionality must be heritable and therefore genetic. However, that fails to provide any information regarding something as nebulous as "intelligence", and it certainly establishes no genetic linkage beyond the obvious.

    More importantly, even in claiming a genetic link, there is no clear evidence regarding the degree to which such traits are heritable. It is abundantly clear among humans that those we classify as geniuses certainly do not tend to have genius offspring. After all, this is a significantly obvious trait, that such an intellectual divergence would be readily observable in any population. While some arguments have been advanced purporting such claims among certain groups, they are clearly not sufficiently large variations to offer better explanations for anything genetically versus culturally.

    It makes no difference whether the chimps are raised by other chimps or by smarter humans. This is true of adopted humans as well. It makes no difference in actual intelligence if a child is raised by adoptive parents who have higher, or lower, I.Q.s than its birth parents. It can make a difference in some instances if the living circumstances are better for the adoptee than they would have been with the birth parents. Having a low I.Q. whilst being raised in a chaotic environment is not a recipe for success.

    Einstein as a child was reported as a slow learner. His stint at the Swiss Patent office gave him an opportunity to see works of invention which must have honed his own creative mathematical thinking.

    Anon above the claim that Einstein was a slow learner in childhood has been debunked. School records showed he excelled the entire time he was at school starting at a young age. And the evidence is his parents were geniuses.

    I am afraid you have fallen for a politically correct anecdote

    Intelligence is genetic. If you have high IQ genes you may excel or you may waste them, but if you have moderate or low IQ there is nothing you can do to increase them.

    And the science also tells us that preponderance of IQ, eg how many in a group are above the global average is ethnicity based. ,