Cognition and Evolution Cooperation in primates: Critical analysis of behavioural criteria
Concerning hunting in chimpanzees, cooperation has generally been attributed to the behaviour of two or more individuals acting together to achieve a common goal (Boesch and Boesch, 1989). The common goal is often considered as the concrete result of a common action by two or several individuals. Although this result could be used as a criterion for cooperation, it could also be an outcome due to chance. We suggest that the goal, viewed as a concrete benefit shared by the partners, is not a requisite of cooperation but rather a possible consequence of a common action largely submitted to social constraints. Individuals engaged in a cooperative task in order to solve a problem have to exchange information to adjust to each other's behaviour. However, evidence of communication between partners during simultaneous cooperation is rare. An experiment in which two chimpanzees each had to simultaneously pull a handle to get a fruit was performed. We analysed not only the concrete result of the partners' activity but also what the individuals took into account before pulling a handle. We tried to specify what the chimpanzees learned by means of a series of logical propositions which we were able to confront the experimental results.