Smart apes

It was not only the creativity to manipulate tools, but also the imagination to manipulate others that pushed forward intelligence. Back in Gombe in Tanzania, we see that it’s not only human children who learn to get their own way. With baby twins, Galahad’s family rest a lot, but Galahad is bored with all that hanging around and wants to be where the action is. He’s heard the group over there and he’s just itching to go and join them - but he wants his mum to go too - and he’s discovered exactly how to get his way. He can read her mind perfectly. He knows if he carries off one of the twins, his mum is bound to follow him wherever he goes. By understanding her point of view and second guessing her reaction he gets the result he wants. Now they are all heading for the group where the big boys are. The plan worked out perfectly. He’s now in striking distance of the males and mum is close behind. The males like to hang-out together. Grooming, like a good heart-to-heart, strengthens friendships - and in the volatile world of chimp politics making friends can help you get to the top. But the current leader, Frodo, isn’t here. He’s unusual in that he doesn’t really care about being popular. He simply relies on basic intimidation tactics. Frodo likes to use the element of surprise, so everyone’s on tenterhooks wondering if and when he’ll show up. And when he comes, his arrival sends the group into frenzy. When all calms once more, the group gives “pant grunts” to appease their leader. For now, the internal politics have been sorted out.

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