Monkey see, monkey decipher

Baboons can recognise English words

source: New Scientist vol 214 no 2861, April 21st 2012 p17

Jonathan Grainger and team from Aix-Marseille University, France, have discovered that baboons can recognise English words. They studied six captive baboons, which learnt to categorise four-letter groups into English words and non-words, with food as a reward. The baboons were then able to tell whether a four-letter sequence was a word, even when they had not seen it before. This implies that they had mastered rules governing letter ordering. The baboons did not understand the meaning of the words, nor were they able to associate them with sounds. However, the study does point to some of the basis of skills that humans use in reading having evolved a very long time ago.