Can humans cause gorillas to develop?

New study: great apes lack a critical skill

The animals already understand: this is about a nut. You can learn the know-what and know-where, that is also well documented. The what and where is thus clarified. But the decisive factor in the long term is how - the know-how. And they do not learn this ability to crack a nut through imitation. Sometimes you need years to acquire it yourself - but that is more likely due to your general motor development. Orangutans, for example, don't crack any nuts in the wild. But if you give them some, orangutans will pound nuts too. However, this know-how takes place spontaneously and purely individually - and not because they copied it. We tested that on orangutans who never saw nutcrackers.

So can it be that we often interpret far too much into animal behavior?

Yes. On the one hand, because it just seems natural to us, we just can't get out of our skin. Our culture is massively based on the fact that we pass on the knowledge we have learned to the next generation. On the other hand, because anthropomorphism, i.e. the attribution of human characteristics to animals, is deeply rooted to this day.

Is our cultural ability to copy knowledge ultimately the decisive point in which humans differ from apes?

Exactly. For many people it is obviously a nice idea that great apes are very similar to us in their abilities. They are, in some abilities. But they lack other skills. And the key skill of the know-how copy is one of the list of missing skills.