Behavioral Similarities between Baboons and Human Beings

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Despite the fact that human beings lost most of their body hair and bulked up their brains, they remain evolutionarily similar to other great apes, with almost 97% of their genesDNA presenting a matchup. Beyond the looks, scholars continue to get startling humanlike behaviors practiced by apes particularly the baboons. Baboons, as mankind’s closest relatives, it remains not a surprise that there are things in common with baboons. Body-wise, baboons and human beings are extremely similar but also distinct.  Human’s brains and that of baboons are remarkably similar regarding the organization.  This is evident in the new research in the neuron journal, which asserts that the regions in the brain controlling linguistic capabilities as well as complex thought processes present identical connectivity in the two species. As a result, baboons can be domesticated and end up behaving like a typical human being.  For instance Kanzi, a 31-year-old baboon housed in the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa.  This Baboon does a lot more as compared to using tools to catch food.  He uses them to prepare food.  He also perfectly roasts marshmallows and makes hamburgers using a frying pan. Despite the fact that he can’t make his frying pan, spatula, and grill, he perfectly knows how to make use of them.  Similar to human beings, this Baboon makes his fire. It has been evidenced that he always goes around the enclosure to collect wood prior striking a match and start cooking.  This is right use matches. Researchers at the home taught it how to make use of them. They asserted that the Baboon wanted to learn after seeing a film on cavemen fire discovery.  It is asserted that the baboon surprisingly became perfect at it, too through quick learning as well as taking care to avoid burning himself.  It is asserted that this baboon named ‘Kanzi ‘ always stands perfectly back from the campfire and keeps it light by pushing wood on it. Therefore, aren’t Baboons having the same behavior as human beings? The following are behavior commonalities.

Play Fair

The genesis of mankind fairness potentially stretches far in the evolutionary times. This situation is evidenced by different primate species appearing to fuss over the inequities. In a research documented in the National Academy of Sciences journal Proceedings, researchers tufted Baboons playing a game where each of a pair of baboons handed a granite rock to a person in for a reward exchange which was either a slice of cucumber or a highly preferable grape (Strum, 1987). When one baboon handed the granite stone over and got a grape, while the second baboon got a cucumber, madness surfaced. This behavioral recognition of unjust situations is critical in keeping relationships in the social setting like those among baboons and human beings (Hamburg, Lindburg, & Strum, 1999). This scenario is also evident in situations where baboons have taken an object which somebody wants back.  He has to offer the baboon something so that it acts as an exchange material with the object taken by the baboon.

Choosing Gender-Specific Identities

Talking about sex and identities, Baboons, like humans, always appear to prefer “gender-appropriate” identities. Whether it is as a consequence of genetics or social processes is not open. Among people, males appear to have a very rigid gender-specific preference when it comes to toys. On the other hand, girls always seem more flexible regarding the playroom, landing both monster-truck varieties and girly dolls as some studies suggest. It has also been shown that early social experiences, as well as innate forces, affect toy selection (Strum, 1987). In one study done among 34 rhesus baboons living in a 135 troop, studies focused on baboon preference for the plush toys which are equivalent of human baby dolls and wheeled objects like trucks. Male baboons presented a consistent and robust preference to the wheeled toys. On the other hand, females ones presented a wider preference variability (Hamburg, Lindburg, & Strum, 1999). Therefore, such behavioral similarities show that such preferences develop even in the absence of explicitly gendered socialization. The toy preferences show hormonally factored behaviors as well as thoughts which get sculpted through social processes regarding sex differences among baboons and human beings.

The Use of Sex Toys

Baboons are one of the only nonhuman species with the ability to devise and utilize different sophisticated tools, including chimp vibrator versions. In the 1960s, one primatologist called Jane Goodall saw a baboon in Tanzania fashioning a grass blade into a tool to facilitate fishing termites out of a mound. After that, these species have continued to expose other surprising abilities to make and utilize advanced tools like those for pleasure.  It has also been ascertained through research that most baboons’ population toolkits have around 20 different tool types.  Primatologists assert that these are for different life functions such as sociality, subsistence, sex as well as self-maintenance.

Moving in a Brittle Star

It is hard to imagine of a creature less like a human yet moves in coordination similar to human locomotion (Strum, 1987). Baboons have radial symmetry with their bodies having the ability to be split into halves that match by coming up with imaginary lines through arms as well as the central axis. Baboons have forward, perpendicular move to their body axis. This is a skill always reserved for the bilaterally symmetrical creatures (Hamburg, Lindburg, & Strum, 1999). Therefore, this behavior presents commonality between baboons and human beings.

Recognizing of Faces

Baboons have the ability to pick a face out of the crowd just like humans.  This was evidenced by a study by researchers at Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tubingen. From initial age onwards, people get accustomed to other people’s faces such as the short nose, lips swing or bushy eyebrows. Human beings learn to recognize differences that contribute to appearance (Cheney, & Seyfarth, 2008). Baboons also have the ability to spot the “short noses” among their pals. Researchers revealed the baboons’ ability by using the Thatcherized face, where different parts get tweaked (for instance, the eyes or mouth get rotated at 180 degrees. The alterations appear strikingly grotesque if observed right-side-up, but rarely noticeable if the entire face gets inverted (Pope, Meguerditchian, Hopkins, & Fagot, 2015). Processing abilities make humans, and baboons to spot the alterations in facial features, but whenever inverted, the capability vanishes. While baboons notice fine face alterations in their skin, they pay less attention to extremely grotesque human faces in right-side-up as well as inverted configurations (Strum, 1987). This behavior happens in humans, wherein research, they didn’t specifically notice the rearranged baboon faces.

Laughing out Loud

One of the most human like behaviors among baboons is laughing when tickled. It has low-pitch than human laughter, though facial expression, as well as the waxing and waning of the laughing sounds, remain eerily human to a situation that those familiar with such vocalizations cannot stop themselves from similarly laughing. Human beings hoot and holler on the exhale, and despite the fact that baboons can do is as well, they so laugh with alternating air flow, in and out. In one study, analysis and records of sounds from tickle-induced guffaws from baboons, comparing with a human was done. The research also focused on at how vocalizations fit in the evolutionary family tree of primates.  The aim was to find the best fit match-up with how closely linked the species were to one another (Pope, Meguerditchian, Hopkins, & Fagot, 2015). Out of the research, it was suggested that there was the common evolutionary genesis for tickling-induced laughter in humans and baboons.  Therefore, laughing out louder is a common behavior between baboons and human beings

Saying ‘No’

Baboons at  Leipzig Zoo got filmed shaking heads “no”  as a way of disapproval to get young ones to stop playing with food rather than eating it or restraining the young one from straying. In a specific case, a female retrieved a baby baboon from an attempt to climb a tree. The young one made several efforts to climb the tree, with the mother retrieving her each time. The last attempt occurred with the mother pulling the infant by the leg and shook her head looking at young one (Cheney, & Seyfarth, 2008). Despite the fact that scholars aren’t certain on whether the baboons really mean no while shaking heads, the outcome do allude the behavior being an initial precursor to negative head-shaking gestures among humans. Primatologists assert that No means “no,” even in other primates. It was reported that At the Arnhem Zoo, a female baboon would shake her head to mean ‘no. For instance, when a young one was about to approach a male with a bad mood, the mother would shake the head at the young one. Human similarities with baboons go beyond appearances, and baboons’ uses different body language as well as vocals in communication (Cheney, & Seyfarth, 2008).  Therefore, one of the most interesting behavioral situations between people and baboons is that both shake heads to show disapproval. Darwin asserted that human beings adopted this behavior at initial age. Young ones who showed acceptance to breastfeeding would lift heads up, while those in disapproval would shake their heads. Shaking of the head as a way of communicating sticks with people into adulthood and perhaps is the reason as to why people associate head nodding with positive reaction while the head is shaking with negative reaction. This theory explains the reason as to why baboons seemingly behave the same.

Using of Tools

Among the greatest turning points in human evolution is the art of tools. In past years, the same thought processes continue to be observed in baboons. Many are observed using tools for different things, including in the forests. For instance, the capuchin baboon has continued to gain more attention from researchers after getting observed digging holes and cracking nuts using rocks. Meanwhile, baboons have been seen snapping off twigs, stripping them, and even shoving them into holes in an attempt to fish out ants (Pope, Meguerditchian, Hopkins, & Fagot, 2015). They also make different sticks for different activities. During ant fishing, baboons use longer and stronger stick and stay away from the hole to avoid bits. This situation is critical from the fact that they know that some tools are better for particular activities.  They also select branches from bushes or trees instead of just taking ones that suits the ground. This behavior is a basic skill that presents means-end rationality. This behavior characterizes human beings through the use of particular tools for particular purposes.

Use of Sign Language

Apes present a perfect and first group animals with the ability to communicate relatively sophisticated messages, and most importantly, with human beings. There are several apes that have been taught to sign. One of the key examples is the current Project Koko. Koko, the baboon, started to learn sign language while a year old (Pope, Meguerditchian, Hopkins, & Fagot, 2015).   Since then, he has mastered to communicate over 1,000 signs and understand over 2,000 words. This ape can understand the spoken English and give response through signs. Though some researchers are skeptical of Koko’s abilities, asserting that she can’t comprehend language, but mere signs to be rewarded, those behind the project disagreed asserting that Koko requested for a kitten for Christmas in one year. After being given a toy cat, she hated it and finally allowed to choose a real cat as a pet. When her cat got hit and killed by a car, Koko used sign-language abilities to show how upset she was (Cheney, & Seyfarth, 2008). People do make weird faces whenever in pain. So do baboons. Baboons can yell when in pain and even run away from those causing the pain. Copying and imitating is also an aspect shared by human beings and baboons. Human beings are good at mimicking others. This happens from economic, social as well as political dimensions.  Baboons too have this ability. They can observe what people do and repeat the same.  Therefore, they easily learn what people do, and this ability remains common in the two.

Eating Junk Food as a Way of Calming the Nerves

When people get faced with romantic breakups or tiresome episode at the job, they always shift into gluttony sorts, from stiff drinks to gallons of tasty ice cream. It turns out, baboons behave the same while battling daily stress. The baboons naturally have hierarchies, with dominant as well as subordinate females.  In their arrangement, the latter always endures harassment as well as the lack of control. Among the low-ranked, stress signs such as excessive body-scratching, yawning, self-grooming as well as pacing are present.  Eating less as compared to the highly-ranked counterparts also presents stress. Researchers tested the stress-comfort-food relationship byproviding thedominant as well as subordinate females access to banana-flavored pellets with low-fat and high-fat diets. The two differed from their standard fare of high-fiber Purina foods. When the baboons were given the diet more like the American diet with high fat and sugar, the subordinates eat more. The dominant baboons did not eat in excess as the case of subordinates. The high-ranking monkeys ate  only in n daylight hours while the social subordinates went on to chow down on the fat-laden foods and  low-fat ones during the day and night. This behavior is also present in human beings.

Transmission of Culture

Cultural socialization, or cultural fusion, is the way society’s spreads information.  In past years, it was assumed that people were the sole creatures with culture. While observing baboons, this is not the case. Behavior can get passed on from one creature to the rest in a group. This transmission can totally alter group functions.  There is no story that illustrates this situation better than that of apes. Imo, a macaque in the 1950s became renown among psychologists globally for the innovations as well as influence she introduced in her troop.  Her troop stayed on a small island in Japan, where they got fed with grains as well as sweet potatoes by a scientist.  Even when macaques tend to steer clear of water, Imo took the potatoes down the sea and cleaned sand off them (Cheney, & Seyfarth, 2008).  The potatoes were not only cleaner, but also the saltwater improved their taste. After some time, all members in the troop started to wash potatoes prior eating them. After sometimes, the troop started to go deeper into the water and became less afraid. They also started to play and swim in the sea. Sometime later, she came up with another idea: She took the grains and threw them into the sea making them float while the sand sinks. These practices made it separating sand from grains easier for eating. This culture was letter transmitted to the entire troop (Hamburg, Lindburg, & Strum, 1999). Therefore, just like social learning in human beings, baboons also behave the same when instituting particular practices in the group. Therefore, there is social learning among people and baboons.

Beg for Food

Different primates are specifically astute at human gestures.  This is the reason as to why ape communication incredibly looks human to people. Baboons always beg to get food using an open hand just like human beggars in the street. They pose aggressive gestures that resemble human. They stroke, touch and even hug like human beings. As a result, their gestural repertoire appears totally human (Cheney, & Seyfarth, 2008). One study carried out in 2007 on baboons revealed that they are highly versatile with a hand as well as foot gestures as compared to facial expressions. A young baboon in the research presented hand-waving savvy through the compilation of reach-out begging gesture with a silent bared-teeth face. All this was in an attempt to reclaim food.  This can easily show that human beings communicated using sign language long prior spoken communication. Human beings had the same behavior when it comes to requesting food from others.  They used sign language to present their request just like what baboons do to people as well as to their fellow troop members. It, therefore, brings human beings and baboons at one common behavior.

Mourning and Celebrating

Baboons just like human beings do mourn and celebrate situations.  When a baboon dies, the troop always weeps and yells for the loss (Strum, 1987).  They spend time at the corpse just like human beings. When faced with happy moments like availability of excess food, they become happy charting and, playing and enjoying the moments.  Therefore, this behavioral aspect is a commonality that always characterizes these two species.

Punishing Young Ones

Human beings always reinforce good behavior among young ones by punishing wrong behavior. It occurs, particularly, where there is noncompliance on the part of the young one. Similarly, baboons do punish young ones including canning them for not following the rules of the troops.  Stubborn young ones are always beaten by mothers to stop behaviors that seem inappropriate in the family (Boaz, 1997). Therefore, just as human being reinforces behavior through punishment, baboons also do the same. Competing for resources is another common behavior among human beings and baboons. The scarcity of resources among human being always leads to conflicts.  Similarly, baboons do conflict when resources become scarce.  Each of them will be trying to ensure her young one’s feeds, and therefore, she denies others the access to food. Baboons, just like human beings, have a political system (Caughell, 2016). Among the baboons, the hierarchy is determined by power, size as well as the sharpness of the fangs, muscle mass, weight but also through aggressiveness and the ability to devise alliances, or to master when to stab a companion from behind. Apart from the fangs, all other issues apply to human beings.  Human beings also politic and in many cases, alliances are vital. Aggressiveness is also another aspect that shapes human politics.


To conclude, human beings and baboons share many similarities when it comes to behavioral dimension. This can be attributed to the fact that the two species are related regarding evolution.  Similarly, the proximity of people to these animals also provides an opportunity for them to copy what people do. Hence, these similarities show the same origin.


Boaz, N. T. (1997): Eco homo. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Cheney, D. L., & Seyferth, R. M. (2008): Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of social mind.      Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.

Caughell, L. (2016). The political battle of the sexes: Exploring sources of gender gaps in policy   preferences.

Hamburg, D. A., Lindburg, D. G., & Strum, S. C. (1999): The new physical anthropology:            Science, humanism, and critical reflection. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Pope, S., Meguerditchian, A., Hopkins, W., & Fagot, J. (2015): Baboons ( Papio), but not             humans, break cognitive set in a visuomotor task. Animal Cognition, 18(6), 1339-1346.     Doi: 10.1007/s10071-015-0904-y

Strum, S. C. (1987). Almost Human: A Journey into the world of baboons. London: Elm Tree.


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