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Fri Aug 9, 2019, 09:27 PM

The World's Smartest Chimp Has Died.

'Her life helped us answer the question: What do animals think about?

Do other animals think, and what do they think about? Sarah, a chimpanzee who died last week in her late 50s, offers some important clues.

Sarah, who could have been deemed the world’s smartest chimp, was brought to the United States from Africa as an infant to work with David and Ann Premack in a series of experiments designed to find out what chimpanzees might think. In order to determine what, if anything, might be on Sarah’s mind, she was one of the first chimpanzees to be taught a human language. The Premacks taught her to use plastic magnetic tokens that varied in size and color to represent words. She formed sentences by placing the tokens in a vertical line. Ann Premack noted that her earliest words named “various interesting fruits,” so that Sarah “could both solve her problem and eat it.”

Food plays an important role in chimpanzee life, and in Sarah’s case, food often took on meaning beyond sustenance. She clearly had favorite foods, like chocolate, and much of the time would only correctly answer the questions she was asked if chocolate was forthcoming. She often would create sentences of the form “Mary give Sarah apple” but when Mary would change the order to read “Sarah give Mary apple” Sarah would not be happy and knock the sentence off the board.

The Premacks noted that one of the difficulties in teaching language to a caged subject is finding things to talk about. There is only so long even food-motivated chimpanzees will be willing to talk about bananas. Finding new sources of interest was important and for Sarah it was clear that asking her about her favorite people and promising her M & Ms provided strong motivation.

Sarah’s favoritism toward certain people came in handy in her groundbreaking participation in tests that lead to a subfield of inquiry known in psychology and philosophy as “theory of mind.” Sarah helped David Premack and co-author Guy Woodruff answer the title question of their 1978 paper “Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?” in the affirmative.

To have a theory of mind is to be able to attribute purpose, intention, beliefs, desires, and other attitudes to both oneself and another person or animal. In order to test whether Sarah could understand that people had thoughts that differed from her thoughts, she was presented with short video tapes where a human actor in a cage was trying to perform a task, like trying to get some bananas that were inaccessible. After watching the video Sarah was shown two pictures, one that would allow the actor to reach his goal (a box) the other not (a key). She successfully solved the problems for the actor.'>>>

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/09/opinion/chimpanzee-sarah.html?

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Fri Aug 9, 2019, 09:43 PM

1. You might also ask if many humans are able to think.

There are quite a few humans that I would question their ability to problem solve, recognize lies and understand existential threats to their well being/survival.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Fri Aug 9, 2019, 10:00 PM

2. Thoughts and prayers to Laura and the whole Bush family

Oh, not that smirking chimp

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Response to SCantiGOP (Reply #2)

Fri Aug 9, 2019, 10:07 PM

3. I believe the title was "Smartest" chimp

I made the same mistake as you did at first.

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Response to Bob Loblaw (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 10, 2019, 01:10 AM

4. Well it also means it could not have been a Republican at all because anyone that still supports

them cannot be to bright.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sat Aug 10, 2019, 08:27 AM

5. Found a memorial page from her last home where she lived 13 of her nearly 60 years.

Remembering Sarah Anne

July 29, 2019Chimp Blog

It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that Chimp Haven’s oldest resident, Sarah Anne, has passed, just shy of her 60th birthday. Sarah Anne came to Chimp Haven in 2006, and her intelligence, feisty attitude, and regal disposition quickly made her one of the most beloved personalities at the sanctuary.

Before coming to Chimp Haven, Sarah Anne was involved in one of the earliest nonhuman-ape language acquisition studies in which she learned to communicate through the use of symbolic tokens. She was featured in the book, “The Mind of an Ape,” and even has her own Wikipedia page.

Staff will remember Sarah Anne as the “epitome of a queen.” She was never without her favorite soft, cuddly blankets, which she carried with her wherever she went and often used to wrap herself up into a cozy “chimp burrito.”

More:
https://chimphaven.org/chimp-blog/sarah-anne/

Had no idea chimpanzees could live that long! Sounds as if she was surrounded by people and other chimps who loved her throughout her life. What a fine character she was.

Thanks for letting us know about Sarah.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sat Aug 10, 2019, 03:44 PM

6. The world's smartest chimp or the world's most educated chimp?

My guess is that it's the world's most educated chimp, which should give us pause about how we usually treat them.

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