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December 14th, 2009
Web-Exclusive Video: Monkeys and Magic Fruit

The Human Spark crew visited Yale University scientist Laurie Santos on the Puerto Rican island where she conducts cognition studies with a free-ranging population of monkeys. Laurie aims to learn more about our brains’ evolutionary origins by figuring out what we share with monkeys – and what we don’t. The idea is that talents we share probably arose early in evolution in our common ancestor; uniquely human talents likely evolved after that split.

In this video, Laurie pulls a sleight-of-hand switcheroo on her monkey research subjects. Will they notice when a fruit that starts rolling down a plank as a kiwi reaches the bottom as a lime? Watch to see how the monkeys react… and find out what this study implies about their abilities – and ours.

For more info, check out this article about Laurie and her monkey research from Discover Magazine: “The ‘Monkey Whisperer’ Learns the Secrets of Primate Economics

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