The Washington Post is reporting that researchers in Senegal have, for the first time, observed chimpanzees engaging in systematic production of arms (specifically wooden spears) for use against other primates (specifically "bush babies" - a sort of small monkey-like thing, also known as a "galago"). The weapons seem to be in a very early stage of development: of 22 trials observed by human researchers, only one resulted in the death of the target. Still, the researchers say that this is a major innovation in chimp weapons technology, as their previous method, which involved chasing the target, grabbing it by the tail, and beating it against the ground until death (I'm not making this up! Go read the article!), had an even lower success rate. The chimps made the spears by breaking off tree branches and sharpening them with their hands and teeth. They used them by jabbing them repeatedly into the holes where the bush babies hide. A short video is available from National Geographic.
HT: SlashdotPosted by Kenny at February 23, 2007 3:03 PM
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