Last night, I watched by chance a programme in the BBC’s Natural World series called Cheeky Monkey.
This was a fascinating programme which explored intelligence, learning, culture and communication within monkey populations and between monkey species.
The ability of some monkeys to lie tied in with Robin Dunbar’s thoughts on man’s “theory of mind” – the ability to think through how others might react to something one says. The film showed monkeys exhibiting both second order and third order concepts of mind.
The learnt use of tools by monkeys in a variety of settings was also really interesting – it shows that (some) monkeys were thinking about things they couldn’t see – visualising the outcome of using the tools, including weapons.
All in all, I couldn’t help thinking that anthropomorphising about monkeys might not be anthropomorphising at all – maybe they really are thinking what we think they might be thinking!