Chimp infants know when to turn off tears

Science Editor,Steve Connor
Tuesday 08 September 2009 00:00
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Baby chimps are better at controlling their emotions than human babies of a comparable age, which could help to explain why some babies cry so much and are so inconsolable, a study has found.

Scientists investigating the facial expressions of young chimpanzees have found that baby chimps almost always cry for a reason, in contrast to some of the crying of human babies.

The researchers believe the finding may result from difference in brain development between the two species, with human babies being born with slightly less developed brains than chimps.

"If you pick up a baby chimp when it's fussing [crying], it calms down and stays calm. Anybody who has had a fussy child knows it is well within the range of the human norm that if you pick them up then they are still fussy," said Professor Kim Bard of Portsmouth University.

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