Chimpanzees are able to identify the face of their relatives in the same way as we do. Such a discovery can shed light on the evolution of man from monkeys to the present, scientists say.
Faces are the key to a person’s social life, conveying basic data about how he feels at a particular moment.Chimpanzees can recognize faces no worse than humans.
Thus, people primarily pay attention to this particular part of the body. For example, when faces in a photograph are mixed with images of other objects, such as cars and houses, people can detect a specific face without much effort.
Previous studies have also shown that people see faces differently than they see other objects; for example, face recognition changes markedly if people are shown upside down, or when the face image is modified so that the nose and mouth are located under the eyes. These latest results show that the human brain analyzes faces based on an integrated approach - that is, it understands the images of faces by looking at them as a whole.
More and more often, scientists believe that chimpanzees are the closest relatives of mankind, and they are also able to see faces differently than other things.
“The animals very quickly found a face among the various objects provided to them.” Said lead author of the study, Masaki Tomonaga, scientist at the Kyoto University Research Institute.
To learn more about the reaction of monkeys to their appearance, scientists first decided to experiment in this direction, selecting three adult individuals - Chloe, Pendis and Au, so that they would find a chimpanzee's face, a banana, a car and a house among groups of other images on the touch screen.
Researchers found that the monkeys did an excellent job and without any hesitation recognized the face of a chimpanzee.
However, the ability of a chimpanzee to detect a relative's face is significantly hindered when it was turned upside down. This suggests that monkeys can analyze faces holistically, as humans do.
“In the process of evolution, humans and chimpanzees have developed specialized facial processing capabilities. - said Tomonaga. “This means that the face plays a very important social role in both forms.”
Chimpanzees identified the banana in the photo as successfully as the face. However, further research showed that such a quick reaction to fruit was due to its ability to distinguish yellow.
With a black and white image of a banana, the animal took more time to pass the test. Future research could show how well other primates recognize each other's faces, and at what age they can do it.