Chimpanzees at Pre-School

There are few things as fascinating to me as the question of how our ancestors evolved from small-brained, tree-dwelling apes. But sometimes it all can feel a bit abstract. After all, we’re talking about things that happened six million years ago. Recently, though, I had a weird experience that brought our evolutionary history smack into my face. Some Yale psychologists came to my daughter Charlotte’s pre-school looking for volunteers for a study that would compare how children and young chimpanzees learn. It turns out that chimpanzees can be a lot more logical than children, Charlotte included. I’ve written an essay about the experience that appears in tomorrow’s New York Times.

(For those interested in the scientific background to this experience, here’s the paper that inspired the new study.)