An Important Scientific Development (Featuring a Photo of an Orangutan Playing With an iPad)

More
[optional image description]
AP/J Pat Carter

Orangutans are highly intelligent. And while they don't speak, they boast impressive manual dexterity -- which has meant that they've been able to communicate with humans, in a limited but still meaningful way, using sign language.

It turns out, though, that there's another way to use your hands to communicate: using iPads. The Miami Zoo, inspired by similar efforts with dolphin communication, is experimenting with iPads as part of a communications and "mental stimulus" program with its orangutans.

The program would be fantastic if for no other reason than its production of the above picture of an orangutan playing with an iPad. But the kind of computer-assisted communication it's experimenting with could prove an important development -- for science, and for our ability to commune with our Darwinian kin. Tablets could serve as another kind of missing link. Linda Jacobs, who oversees the program, "hopes the devices will eventually help bridge the gap between humans and the endangered apes."

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The U.S. is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In