Chimps Learn Not to Get Squashed When Crossing the Road

By Gary Cutlack on at

A quite extraordinary video shows a clever little chimpanzee checking both ways before crossing the road, with scientists suggesting this means they're probably clever enough to be shaved and adopted as children by Hollywood celebrities.

And this is no mere guesswork based on repeat watchings of Jungle Book -- there's a video. Researchers recorded a total of 20 cases of groups of chimps crossing a road in Sebitoli, Uganda, with a total of 122 chimp family members being watched as they crossed. Here's one careful little chap in action and making his parents proud:

According to the numbers, 92 per cent of the chimps watched crossing the road looked at least one way before walking out onto the tarmac, with an even more intelligent 57 per cent picking up the pace and running across the stretch to prove they know that fast rural trucks and smooth road surfaces are often equated with the death of wild hairy things.

The chimps seem to judge road crossing as an ultimate challenge of strength and intelligence too, with the alpha male of each population leading the majority of cross-tarmac expeditions -- while healthy chimps were spotted looking back to check on youngsters, the sick and slowcoaches, to ensure they made it across safely. [New Scientist via Reddit]