The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Baby Chimpanzees VS Human Babies

Baby chimpanzees have as large a range of joyous facial expressions as baby humans and may even be better at controlling their behaviour than the youngest human infants, according to research.

A comprehensive mapping system of the facial movements of baby chimps suggests that they may have a similar level of emotional subtlety to human babies.

The “Baby Chimp Facial Action Coding System”, recently developed by scientists at the University of Portsmouth, applies established methods of classifying human expressions to baby apes for the first time.

The system allows precise description of chimp expressions, distinguishing them from similar human expressions that may convey very different emotions, said Professor Kim Bard, director of the Centre for the Study of Emotion at Portsmouth.

What looks like a smile in a baby chimp may in fact denote distress or fear, she said, while an open mouth could be a sign of happiness.

“It allows us to distinguish how the face moves from the emotion,” she told the British Science Festival. “Now we can talk about how the face looks and the emotion at the same time.”

Initial results show that baby chimps have 16 varieties of smile,
compared with 13 in humans, a finding that points to an unexplored richness in baby chimp emotions.

“Some of the differences in facial expression are very subtle,” Professor Bard said. “We have identified almost five different varieties of the fear grin. Do they really mean the same thing?” She hopes that by classifying how facial expressions correspond to different emotions, the system may give far greater insight into the emotional lives of the chimps and how they communicate with their parents and carers.

“We may have a way to measure emotional intelligence because we can see the subtleties in expressions,” she said.

There is also evidence that baby chimps have greater control over their emotional behaviours than the youngest human babies. “It’s really clear that if you pick up a baby chimp when it’s fussing, it calms down. Anybody who has a fussy child knows that it is within the range of normal for you to pick it up and it will still be fussing,” Professor Bard said.

“Chimps don’t have colic — they don’t have uncontrollable crying,” she said. “They seem to have better control over behavioural states when they’re young.”

After the age of about 3 months, however, the chimps are likely to carry on crying when picked up by humans.

Professor Bard hopes the research will shed light on the millions of years of evolution shared by humans and chimpanzees.

“I’m really interested in the evolutionary basis for expressed emotion, focusing on what apes and humans have in common,” she said.

Earlier this year her colleague Marina Davila Ross published research suggesting that laughter was older than humanity. Her team analysed the sounds made when chimps, gorillas and orang-utans were tickled, and concluded that laughter evolved at least ten million years ago.


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