For First Time, Chimps Seen Making Weapons for Hunting


sanctus
#1
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer

Chimpanzees living in the West African savannah have been observed fashioning deadly spears from sticks and using the tools to hunt small mammals -- the first routine production of deadly weapons ever observed in animals other than humans.
The multistep spearmaking practice, documented by researchers in Senegal who spent years gaining the chimpanzees' trust, adds credence to the idea that human forebears fashioned similar tools millions of years ago.
The landmark observation also supports the long-debated proposition that females -- the main makers and users of spears among the Senegalese chimps -- tend to be the innovators and creative problem solvers in primate culture.
Using their hands and teeth, the chimpanzees were repeatedly seen tearing the side branches off long, straight sticks, peeling back the bark and sharpening one end. Then, grasping the weapons in a "power grip," they jabbed them into tree-branch hollows where bush babies -- small, monkeylike mammals -- sleep during the day.
In one case, after repeated stabs, a chimpanzee removed the injured or dead animal and ate it, the researchers reported in yesterday's online issue of the journal Current Biology.
"It was really alarming how forceful it was," said lead researcher Jill D. Pruetz of Iowa State University, adding that it reminded her of the murderous shower scene in the Alfred Hitchcock movie "Psycho." "It was kind of scary."
The new observations are "stunning," said Craig Stanford, a primatologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California. "Really fashioning a weapon to get food -- I'd say that's a first for any nonhuman animal."
Scientists have documented tool use among chimpanzees for decades, but the tools have been simple and used to extract food rather than to kill it. Some chimpanzees slide thin sticks or leaf blades into termite mounds, for example, to fish for the crawling morsels. Others crumple leaves and use them as sponges to sop drinking water from tree hollows.
But while a few chimpanzees have been observed throwing rocks -- perhaps with the goal of knocking prey unconscious, but perhaps simply as an expression of excitement -- and a few others have been known to swing simple clubs, only people have been known to craft tools expressly to hunt prey.
Pruetz and Paco Bertolani of the University of Cambridge made the observations near Kedougou in southeastern Senegal. Unlike other chimpanzee sites currently under study, which are forested, this site is mostly open savannah. That environment is very much like the one in which early humans evolved and is different enough from other sites to expect differences in chimpanzee behaviors.
Pruetz recalled the first time she saw a member of the 35-member troop trimming leaves and side branches off a branch it had broken off a tree.
"I just knew right away that she was making a tool," Pruetz said, adding that she suspected -- with some horror -- what it was for. But in that instance she was unable to follow the chimpanzee to see what she did with it. Eventually the researchers documented 22 instances of spearmaking and use, two-thirds of them involving females.
In a typical sequence, the animal first discovered a deep tree hollow suitable for bush babies, which are nocturnal and weigh about half a pound. Then the chimp would break off a branch -- on average about two feet long, but up to twice that length -- trim it, sharpen it with its teeth, and poke it repeatedly into the hollow at a rate of about one or two jabs per second.
After every few jabs, the chimpanzee would sniff or lick the branch's tip, as though testing to see if it had caught anything.
In only one of the 22 observations did a chimp get a bush baby. But that is reasonably efficient, Pruetz said, compared with standard chimpanzee hunting, which involves chasing a monkey or other prey, grabbing it by the tail and slamming its head against the ground.
In the successful bush-baby case, the chimpanzee, after using its sharpened stick, jumped on the hollow branch in the tree until it broke, exposing the limp bush baby, which the chimp then extracted. Whether the animal was dead or alive at that point was unclear, but it did not move or make any sound.
Chimpanzees are believed to offer a window on early human behavior, and many researchers have hoped that the animals -- humans' closest genetic cousins -- might reveal something about the earliest use of wooden tools.
Many suspect that the use of wooden tools far predates the use of stone tools -- remnants of which have been found dating from 2 1/2 million years ago. But because wood does not preserve well, the most ancient wooden spears ever found are only about 400,000 years old, leaving open the question of when such tools first came into use.
The discovery that some chimps today make wooden weapons supports the idea that early humans did too -- perhaps as much as 5 million years ago -- Stanford said.
Adrienne Zihlman, an anthropologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz, said the work supports other evidence that female chimps are more likely than males to use tools, are more proficient at it and are crucial to passing that cultural knowledge to others.
"Females are the teachers," Zihlman said, noting that juvenile chimps in Senegal were repeatedly seen watching their mothers make and hunt with spears.
Females "are efficient and innovative, they are problem solvers, they are curious," Zihlman said. And that makes sense, she added.
"They are pregnant or lactating or carrying a kid for most of their life," she said. "And they're supposed to be running around in the trees chasing prey?"
Frans B.M. de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University, said aggressive tool use is only the latest "uniquely human" behavior to be found to be less than unique.
"Such claims are getting old," he said. "With the present pace of discovery, they last a few decades at most."
 
marygaspe
#2
Hmmm....We better be careful. With the way we are taking care of the planet, the last thing we'd need is a war with the Chimps
 
AndyF
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by marygaspeView Post

Hmmm....We better be careful. With the way we are taking care of the planet, the last thing we'd need is a war with the Chimps



Could be they're the next species in line to give it a try after we blow ourselves up.

Andyf
 
marygaspe
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by AndyFView Post



Could be they're the next species in line to give it a try after we blow ourselves up.

Andyf

Hah hah, Maybe God has finally tired of us and is looking for a replacement
 
karrie
#5
Add it to the list of nightmarish material I know about chimps now. lol. If anyone ever gets the chance to watch The Dark Side of Chimps, a National Geographic production I believe, it was truly eye opening. I had never realized that they will hunt and eat human children out of villages. One chimp in a zoo got ahold of some poor lady's arm through the bars of his cage, and they're so tough that all she could do was lie there in terror, pinned against the cage, as he ate her thumb, one finger, and proceeded to rip the muscles off her forearm. They can be impressively violent.
 
hermanntrude
#6
I wonder if any chimp would ever think of turning the spear on another chimp? I suppose it's just a matter of time if it hasnt already happened. Does "thou shalt not kill" apply to chimps too? if so does it mean thou shalt not kill chimps, humans, or both?
 
missile
#7
I consider this some proof of the evolution theory, and Planet of the Chimps would make a great movie series,too.
 
sanctus
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by missileView Post

I consider this some proof of the evolution theory, and Planet of the Chimps would make a great movie series,too.

Been done already
 
karrie
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by hermanntrudeView Post

I wonder if any chimp would ever think of turning the spear on another chimp? I suppose it's just a matter of time if it hasnt already happened. Does "thou shalt not kill" apply to chimps too? if so does it mean thou shalt not kill chimps, humans, or both?

You should see what chimps do to eachother as it is. I think they like the 'hands on' kill. The way the males kill males from rival groups is horrific. Complete with ripping off their genitals. I don't think human morality really applies.
 
hermanntrude
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

You should see what chimps do to eachother as it is. I think they like the 'hands on' kill. The way the males kill males from rival groups is horrific. Complete with ripping off their genitals. I don't think human morality really applies.

would it apply under a God? It doesnt seem to for us, but if there were a God, and He said "thou shalt not kill" why would he mean us and not chimps, and where does it overlap?
 
missile
#11
Yes, now they are making weapons "for hunting". How soon will they start making offensive weapons of mass destruction?
 
sanctus
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by hermanntrudeView Post

I wonder if any chimp would ever think of turning the spear on another chimp? I suppose it's just a matter of time if it hasnt already happened. Does "thou shalt not kill" apply to chimps too? if so does it mean thou shalt not kill chimps, humans, or both?

Nope, the laws of God are for those with souls-people. Animals don't count as being created in God's image.
 
hermanntrude
#13
The thing is, it seems reasonably clear that humans came through a chimp-like stage in their evolution. when did the rules begin to apply? when did we evolve a soul, or did we have them all the time, right back to when we were amphibians crawling out of the sea?
 
karrie
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by hermanntrudeView Post

would it apply under a God? It doesnt seem to for us, but if there were a God, and He said "thou shalt not kill" why would he mean us and not chimps, and where does it overlap?

I think that in order to have the 'thou shalt not kill' apply, you need a bit of a higher understanding than chimps currently have. Even within our own society, we recognize that not everyone is of a mental capacity to understand, due to illness or other factors. Frankly, our own society doesn't really get the idea very well as a whole. I can't see expecting chimps to. lol.
 
Zzarchov
#15
How do you know Chimps aren't just Men who didn't eat the apple?

It never says the Garden of Eden is the only garden he made If I recall, and It implies otherwise, not the least of reasons being Cains wife, or the adventuers of Lilith.
 
#juan
#16
I'm sure chimpanzees could be taught to manage a bow and arrow right now. It is a bit frightening to imagine a whole band of chimps armed with modern bows and arrows. Funny that movie has not yet been made.
 
lieexpsr
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by hermanntrudeView Post

The thing is, it seems reasonably clear that humans came through a chimp-like stage in their evolution. when did the rules begin to apply? when did we evolve a soul, or did we have them all the time, right back to when we were amphibians crawling out of the sea?

Perhaps you should consider that chimps and other animals have a soul just like the human animal. Or much better still, just accept the plain fact that no animal has a soul at all.

Chimpanzees are very violent animals but the Bonobo which is our closest relative is a very peaceful animal. While Chimps are violent toward each other Bonobos just have sex with each other all day. They are smaller than the Chimpanzee and are very limited in their territory. For a long time it wasn't realized that they were a different species from chimps but indeed they are. They are highly intelligent, even more intelligent than chimps and quicker to learn. If anyone wants to learn about Bonobos and the many intelligent behaviours which have been taught to them, including a sign language with which to communicate with humans, I would recommend a good book.

Inside the Animal Mind by George Page. Page is the executive editor, host, and narrator of the 'Nature' series on public television.

I enjoyed the book immensely becasue George was careful to include non-anthropomorphic explanations after each telling of the thinking, planning, and emotional behaviour which has been observed in these animals. From my own perspective I choose to accept that they are capable of thought and planning and many of the other human emotions, as opposed to just putting it down to instinctual animal behaviour. But one needs to read the book in order to form his/her own opinion.
 
lieexpsr
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by #juanView Post

I'm sure chimpanzees could be taught to manage a bow and arrow right now. It is a bit frightening to imagine a whole band of chimps armed with modern bows and arrows. Funny that movie has not yet been made.

No, it appears that Chimps and Bonobos fall a little short of that. But they have been taught many other uses of tools which are just as complicated. We must remember that animals can't practice all the skills which we humans practice because their bodies aren't suited in most cases. However, they do what they do far better than humans, as for example some bats which far exceed human capabilities with their echo location abilities. And then of course, there are animals with different forms of the eye which don't have the flaws which the human eye has built into it by evolution.
 
Zzarchov
#19
They don't do it naturally, you could easily build a custom bow or atl-atl and give them to chimps, kick start evolution.

Bows are still very deadly, and chimps could be very good with them, that would be one unhappy poacher.
 
tanakar
#20
Relax , everybody, they are just part of the Bush family
shaking their tails and making a noise to try to scare
real human beings into believing that war is a great way
to protect only Amerikan citizens. Stupid people produce
stupid ideas.
 
marygaspe
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by tanakarView Post

Relax , everybody, they are just part of the Bush family
shaking their tails and making a noise to try to scare
real human beings into believing that war is a great way
to protect only Amerikan citizens. Stupid people produce
stupid ideas.

We are not doomed.. if we were so doomed, it would have occurred a long time ago. This is apparently typical chimpanzee behavior, meaning that it's been around for millenia if not megannia, and they've yet to overtake us. We still have the damned dirty apes outsmarted.

I'll begin to worry when they become capable of making movies.
 

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