Why chimpanzees don't play baseball (at least, not as well as we do)

Good news for humanity’s sense of shiny special uniqueness! Sure, other animals use tools. Chimpanzees and bonobos might even have behaviors that can be classified as cultural. But those damn dirty apes still can’t throw a fastball to save their lives. Becky Lang at Discover magazine has an interesting story on this research, which centers… READ THE REST

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I’m not so sure I can play baseball better than a chimpanzee.


No need for fancy motion capture analysis to discover the role of sinewy “elastic energy” in throwing; just rent this documentary movie!

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But which species is better at throwing their own feces? Chimps can be pretty accurate with that when they want to be. I suppose thrown feces isn’t a very good weapon for hunting, though.

I’ve seen chimpanzees throw. They throw like a gorilla.

Except for Poo-less Joe Jackson. He was the greatest.

There was a recent XKCD “What If” that touched on this as well

I’m guessing that Chimps find baseball as boring as I do… Where’s the incentive to play a tedious game like baseball?

A ballistic calculation required to make an accurate throw is so deucedly complicated that we are the only animal that does it as well as we do. Not only is the arm angle and force important, the release window is thousandths of a second, yet we do it easily.

Professor William Calvin has suggested that the feedback loop of throwing is what set us on the path to modern humanity. First, it requires a lot of brain power, and second a shoulder designed partially for walking like a chimp’s is inefficient for throwing. Throwing probably was a contributor to our fully bipedal stance and our bigger brain.

The most popular human tool – ever – was the so-called hand-axe, used by first homo erectus and then by homo sapiens and neanderthalensis for 1.5 million years. Its unchanging design suggests it was optimized and couldn’t be improved. Dr. Calvin has discovered that it makes a perfect thrown weapon, a characteristic that would not have escaped our ancestors for a million or so years.

Throwing is what made us human.

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