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Chimp Study: Travel Makes You Smarter

Findings published last month in the journal eLife indicate that travel broadens the mind and makes you more innovative.

A seven-year experiment in the field among 70 animals in Uganda by researchers at the University of Neuchâtel and the University of Geneva showed that chimpanzees—which share an immense amount of DNA in common with us—were far more likely to come up with creative solutions, including inventing tools, if they habitually roamed than if they remained in one area.

It has long been a standard postulate of evolutionary theory that creatures develop specialized skills only when they need them to survive. This study proved that survival wasn't quite enough, because chimps that were not permitted to wander were less likely to come up with new tools—the added stimulation of a changing setting seemed to be key to making innovation happen, and chimps that traveled long distances were 15% to 20% more likely to turn a log, stick, or leaf into a tool than non-traveling chimps were.

"Our results show that travel fosters tool use in wild chimpanzees and it may also have been a driving force in early technological evolution by humans," wrote co-author Dr. Thibaud Gruber in a statement announcing the results.

Read the results: Travel fosters tool use among wild chimpanzees. And if you've always wanted to travel more, this proves it's worth the leap. Go bananas.

(Credit: Tichnor Brothers, Publisher [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)