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How evolved are monkey brains?

Question: Hi Teacher Joe. I read the following sentence in a magazine but I am not sure of the exact meaning. "Monkeys and chimpanzees, although they are weaker and less fierce than many other animals, possess brains which are as far along the evolutionary road as any creature other than man." Obviously, the writer takes advantages of 'as ~ as'. So in English, the sentence shows that monkeys and chimpanzees have brains of the same level as many other animals. But when my teacher translated it into Chinese, she said monkeys and chimpanzees had more highly evolved brains than many other animals except man. There's doubt in the minds both of my teacher and of me. Alison in An Hui.

Answer: Hi Alison. I can see how you might be confused by such a sentence. Let's look at it logically and maybe that will help you to understand the actual meaning. The key word in the sentence is "any". Monkeys' brains are as advanced as ANY animal, which includes the lowest, such as maybe worms and the highest, for example dolphins. So, your translation is not as accurate as your teacher's. You wrote that they have "brains of the SAME level as many other animals". That really is not true, unless there are many animals near the top. I am not a biologist, so I don't know how many animals have brains that are equally advanced, but I guess there aren't many. Your teacher's translation says that monkeys' brains are "MORE highly evolved than many other animals". The only thing I would change is the word "many", which really should be "most". Let me know if that's clear!

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