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February 22, 2007

We're Screwed: Chimpanzees Now Using Spears To Hunt

Those little shits.

Chimpanzees are capable of making spears to hunt other primates and have been seen using the weapons to apparently kill bushbabies for meat, scientists announced today.

The researchers based their findings on observations of omnivorous chimpanzees that dwell in savannahs similar to those from which humanity's ancestors are thought to have emerged.

"It is not adult males, but young chimpanzees, including adolescent females, who are exhibiting this behavior," Jill Pruetz, a primatologist at Iowa State University, told LiveScience.

"This has important implications for how we think about the evolution of tool use in our own species," Pruetz added. "We have tended to emphasize the role of adult males in hunting, and this research supports the assertion that we should not ignore females and other individuals."

I love that they have to get in a feminist message in in a story about friggin' monkeys.

As if we're all so misogyinistic we're sitting here saying, "Oh, sure, male feces-flingin' monkeys could use spears as weapons, of course. That I totally buy. But female friggin' monkeys? No way. Their brains are one third the size of male chimps'. That's science."

For God's sakes, we spend so much time hating the females of one species we don't have time to oppress the females of other species.

Earlier this month, scientists reported that chimpanzees used stone tools as early as 4,300 years ago, suggesting that they learned to make and use the tools on their own, rather than copying humans.

The scientists investigated the Fongoli community of savannah-dwelling chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in southeastern Senegal.

The researchers saw 10 different chimps fashioning spear-like tools to forcibly jab at nocturnal primates known as lesser bushbabies (Galago senegalensis), which sleep inside hollow branches or tree trunks during the day.

After their attacks, the chimps sniffed or licked their weapons, as if to see whether or not they shed blood.

"I was flabbergasted," Pruetz said.

Previously, researchers had spotted one chimpanzee using tools to flush out mammalian prey, specifically employing a branch to rouse a squirrel.

However, Pruetz and her colleague, Cambridge biological anthropologist Paco Bertolani, saw something far more complex.

The chimps routinely broke off branches, trimmed them of twigs, leaves and bark and sharpened the tips of their spears with their teeth.

There was just one successful attempt in 22 recorded instances of the chimpanzee hunts with their spears.

"Still, this involves significantly less energy than in chasing down monkeys, so it is not surprising that it evolved," Pruetz said.

Makes sense. Their DNA is 98.8% identical to ours, so they're close cousins. (The average DNA variation between humans is only 0.1%.)

digg this
posted by Ace at 07:00 PM

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