Guess who? Chimpanzee faces reveal family relationships

25 November 2022

Two chimpanzees sat together in bushes.

Researchers from the University of St Andrews have shown for the first time that not only do wild chimpanzees tend to look like their family members, but also some relationships are easier to detect than others.

Facial similarities between parents and children or siblings are easily detected in many human families, but it was less clear whether the same was true in other primates.

The new study, published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, was led by researchers from the University of St Andrews, together with an international group from the University of Kent, Budongo Conservation Field Station, Muséum National d’Historie Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, Oxford University, Harvard University, University of Neuchatel, and the Max Planck Institute.

Dr Catherine Hobaiter, from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews, said: “Unfortunately, we couldn’t ask the chimpanzees themselves if they recognised one another! But we know that humans are good at recognising these relationships, and if we can do it then the chimpanzees are also likely to be able to.

More on this story can be found in the University news article - Guess who? Chimpanzee faces reveal family relationships.

Picture copyright: Dr Catherine Hobaiter