Why do girls play with dolls and boys with cars (much to the consternation of feminists everywhere)? The answer may be rooted deep in evolution: scientists observed that female chimpanzee youngsters in the wild play with sticks as dolls:
The new work by Sonya M. Kahlenberg and Richard W. Wrangham, described this week in the journal Current Biology, provides the first suggestive evidence of a wild non-human species playing with rudimentary dolls, as well as the first known sex difference in a wild animal's choice of playthings.
The two researchers say their work adds to a growing body of evidence that human children are probably born with their own ideas of how they want to behave, rather than simply mirroring other girls who play with dolls and boys who play with trucks. Doll play among humans could have its origins in object-carrying by earlier apes, they say, suggesting that toy selection is probably not due entirely to socialization.