Feeds

Chimpanzees sharpen spikes for bush baby killings

Chimpy Spears

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.