Feeds

Chimpanzees sharpen spikes for bush baby killings

Chimpy Spears

The Power of One Infographic

Chimpanzees in West Africa have been observed using sharpened branches as "spears" to hunt other primates.

A report in the journal Current Biology documents 22 instances of chimps in Senegal creating tools to stab their bush baby prey. Bush babies are tiny and much more primitive primates related to the lemurs found in Madagascar.

In one case, researchers saw a chimpanzee stab a bush baby which was hiding in a hollow tree, extract it, and then eat it. Iowa State University assistant professor Jill Pruetz told the BBC: "There were hints that this behavior might occur, but it was one time at a different site."

The standard manufacturing technique for the weapons was to break off a living branch and trim the leaves off. Some would then strip the bark and sharpen up the point with their teeth.

The behaviour was particularly prevalent among adult females and adolescent chimps. Preutz said: "It's classic in primates that when there is a new innovation, particularly in terms of tool use, the younger generations pick it up very quickly. The last ones to pick up are adults, mainly the males. It's a niche that males seem to ignore."

The authors interpret that older males miss out on the opportunity for cultural transmission of ideas available to groups of mothers and their offspring.

The news further explodes the myth of chimpanzees as docile vegetarians. UK TV audiences were shocked in 1980s by a David Attenborough documentary which showed chimps hunting down a monkey and then tearing it apart with their bare hands. Hit play for a glimpse of the bloodthirsty truth about our closest relatives. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.