Apes Play 'tag' As Learning Experience

PORTSMOUTH, England, July 14 (UPI) — Gorillas play “tag” just like human children do, and for the same reason — to hone their competitive skills, European researchers say.

A behavioral study found apes, like humans, will hit a playmate and then run away to get the upper hand, ScienceDaily.com reported Wednesday.


“Our findings on gorilla play show important similarities with the children’s game of tag,” behavioral biologist Dr. Marina Davila Ross of the University of Portsmouth said.

“Not only did the gorillas in our study hit their playmates and then run away chased by their playmates, but they also switched their roles when hit so the chaser became the chased and vice versa.”

“With that knowledge and our own study we can conclude that humans are not unique in their ability to change their behavior in social situations depending on whether they have the advantage or disadvantage in an unfair situation,” she said.

Such unfair play behaviors are likely to be valuable, Ross said, because they allow apes — and humans — to test the limits of what is acceptable behavior and to test their peers and even their parents, ScienceDaily reported.

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