Making plans

Traditionally, human are the only animals considered able to plan ahead. However, recent research works demonstrate that other higher mammals (like bonobos) are able to save tools for future use. As published in Nature by Nicholas J. Mulcahy and Josep Call from Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology [1], this skill is not uniquely human. In their experiments, bonobos and orangutans transported and saved appropriate tools above baseline levels to use them for 1 hour to 14 hours later. These results suggest that the precursor skills for planning for the future evolved before 14 million years ago.

Some researchers see planning for the future as one of the key functionalities of consciousness. A related controversial question is whether or not consciousness (or imagination) is necessary for planning. Human planning involves imagination of the future states, and imagination is usually related to consciousness.

[1] Nicholas J. Mulcahy and Josep Call. Apes Save Tools for Future Use. Science 19 May 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5776, pp. 1038 – 1040.

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