By Charles Singer et al (eds)
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Additional resources for A History of Technology
Convergence o f the eyes upon hand-work is largely dependent on conscious concentration— in other words, it is under the control o f the cortical motor areas, which act in response to co-ordinated im pulses from the eyes. It has been reported that chimpanzees can learn to use their hands under the direction o f their eyes for long enough to thread a needle, but in general the attention that an ape can give to manipulating an object is very fleeting. Furthermore, the erect posture o f man, and the fact that his skull is poised above the top o f the spine instead o f being slung in a forwardly projecting manner as in apes, make it easier for him to pay close attention t o ^ y point over a wide field o f vision.
Behaviour which depends on learning by trial and error is influenced by the development of the individual in the company o f its kind. In some species, innate behaviour patterns are more firmly established than in others. The South African weaverbird builds a complicated nest of sticks, with a knotted strand of horse hair as foundation. A pair was isolated and bred for five generations under canaries, out of sight of their fellows and without their usual nest-building materials. In the sixth generation, still in captivity but with access to the right USE OF TOOLS BY LOWER ANIMALS materials, they built a nest perfect even to the knot o f horse-hair.
Though they have less concentration in solving problems, some monkeys are as quick-witted as apes. From the results o f one intelligence test, a capuchin monkey was rated as high as a chimpanzee. This is probably exceptional, but it is worth bearing in mind as we attempt to trace the origins of human behaviour, because the evidence of fossils and of a study o f comparative anatomy both suggest that the Hominidae arose from monkey-like ancestors. If they were like monkeys of today, they would have been intensely active in body and mind, restlessly inquisitive, and quick in perception and plan.