Watch baboons show off their human-like math skills

No, we're not quite at the point where baboons can tackle calculus or trigonometry, but they do show an ability to count that's at least as good as that of a human child, as this video from the University of Rochester reveals.


Assistant professor Jessica Cantlon and her team worked with eight olive baboons to see how well they could guess the number of peanuts in a cup. Between one and eight peanuts were placed in a pair of cups, and then the baboons were encouraged to pick the larger of the two quantities. When the difference between the two cups was small — say only one more peanut in one cup compared to the other — then the monkeys only guessed right 55 percent of the time, but that jumped up to 75 percent when the difference in peanuts became more noticeable. That shows a rudimentary ability to count on par with that of a small child. Here's what Cantlon has to say about the experiment:

"The human capacity for complex symbolic math is clearly unique to our species. But where did this numeric prowess come from? In this study we've shown that non-human primates also possess basic quantitative abilities. In fact, non-human primates can be as accurate at discriminating between different quantities as a human child. This tells us that non-human primates have in common with humans a fundamental ability to make approximate quantity judgments. Humans build on this talent by learning number words and developing a linguistic system of numbers, but in the absence of language and counting, complex math abilities do still exist."


For more on this experiment, check out the University of Rochester.

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I'm not sure if I would call "That one is more. I want the one that is more!"math. It's certainly very human like, though. ;)