Primate Foundations of Human Intelligence: A View of Tool Use in Nonhuman Primates and Fossil Hominids

  • Tetsuro Matsuzawa


My research has focused primarily on the cognition and behavior of chimpanzees both in the laboratory and in the wild (Matsuzawa 1985a, b, 1990, 1994, 1999; Biro and Matsuzawa 1999, Kawai and Matsuzawa 2000). This chapter deals with the evolution of human intelligence as viewed from the perspective of “comparative cognitive science” (Matsuzawa 1998)—a discipline that compares cognitive functions in living species. Some human traits seem to be shared by chimpanzees, the closest living relatives of humans, and to some extent by other nonhuman primates. To give the study of human intelligence an evolutionary perspective, the chapter will present a framework for examining intelligence with reference to tool use as its main focus. Tool use provides a unitary measure for comparing the intelligence of living primates with that of extinct hominids. Based on its primate foundations, human intelligence has acquired unique characteristics such as a “self-embedding hierarchical structure in cognition,” supported by an increase in the number of levels and relationships that can be comprehended and handled simultaneously by the brain.


World Monkey Postural Reaction Stone Tool Object Manipulation Human Intelligence 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tetsuro Matsuzawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyama, AichiJapan

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