A new article in the New York Times discusses an upcoming paper by Elizabeth Lonsdorf and colleagues in Animal Behavior that examines the way that Gombe chimpanzees learn termite fishing. The paper finds that young females become adept at termite fishing nearly two years before young males.
Dr. Lonsdorf said that typically, when a young male and female are near a mound, "she's really intently termite fishing, and he's spinning himself in circles."
The behavior of both sexes may seem familiar to many parents, she said, adding, "The sex differences we found in the chimps mimic some of the findings from the human child development literature."
She pointed out, however, that at least in the case of chimps, each is doing something important, since the males' play is practice for later dominance behavior.
"They're doing stuff that's really appropriate," she said.
(via Ann Althouse, a rather better-known Madison blogger than I am, and one of my favorites)