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Innovation Among Chimpanzees: It’s what you know and who you know

May 30, 2015 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

$10 - $30

Innovation for Tech Startups Eating Termites  What makes some individuals more likely to innovate than others and what environments promote the spread of new innovation? This talk is not about entrepreneurs but innovation by animals and the commonalities with human innovation. From crafty crows who drop nuts on roads so cars drive over and crack them to low-ranking chimpanzees that defy the odds by discovering new food sources – all animals innovate! (But without business jargon and PowerPoint slides).

Chimpanzees fishing
Chimpanzees fishing

But not all individuals are equally likely to innovate, and not all inventions stick. It is often thought that necessity is the mother of invention, but for monkeys and apes it seems that opportunity is just as important. Having the right tools at your disposal, being well connected to your friends, and, of course, having the smarts to figure out a new solution to a tricky problem are key. Lydia Hopper will explain how chimpanzees learn new skills both in zoos and in the wild. She will share how her research sheds light on chimpanzee’s abilities and how they compare to our own.


Lydia Hopper is the Assistant Director of the Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Lydia received her BSc in Psychology and Zoology from Liverpool University, England, and earned her PhD in Psychology from the University of St Andrews, in Scotland. For her PhD, Lydia studied how our learning styles compare to that of our closest living relatives, chimpanzees. Specifically, she studied how, like us, chimpanzees are able to learn new skills from observing others – a skill that ultimately produces behavioral cultures. In her role at Lincoln Park Zoo, Lydia coordinates the on-grounds behavioral and cognitive research with the primates, much of which is run in view of zoo guests so she can interpret both what zoo scientists learn about primate behavior and how they study it.

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May 30, 2015
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
$10 - $30


222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654 United States


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