Primate PPBS

David Brown at the “Washington Post”: and Coco Ballantyne at “Scientific American”: have the latest news on streamlined arms acquisition strategy, from Sweden’s Furuvik Zoo.

Both stories — which end on the same tragic note — concern an article by Mathias Osvath in _Current Biology,_ titled “Spontaneous planning for future stone throwing by a male chimpanzee”:ttp://

Here’s the abstract:

Planning for a future, rather than a current, mental state is a cognitive process generally viewed as uniquely human. Here, however, I shall report on a decade of observations of spontaneous planning by a male chimpanzee in a zoo. The planning actions, which took place in a calm state, included stone caching and the manufacture of discs from concrete, objects later used as missiles against zoo visitors during agitated chimpanzee dominance displays. Such planning implies advanced consciousness and cognition traditionally not associated with nonhuman animals [1]. Spontaneous and unambiguous planning behaviours for future states by non-humans have not previously been reported, and anecdotal reports, describing single occasions, are exceptionally scarce [2], [3] and [4]. This dearth of observations is arguably the main reason for not ascribing cognitive foresight to nonhuman animals [1]. To date, the surprisingly few controlled demonstrations of planning for future states by animals are experimentally induced behaviours in great apes [5], [6] and [7] and corvids [8] and [9]. The observational findings in this report suggest that these laboratory results are not experimental artefacts, at least in the case of great apes.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, North Korea does have an embassy in Stockholm. But zoo visitors can rest easy, as the traveling Scud salesmen don’t seem to have gotten that far afield.

(PPBS, in the words of “this randomly selected news item”:, is the Pentagon’s “annual process of forecasting threats, and matching them to programs and then programs to budgets.”)

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