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Chimps Found Making Own Weapons to Hunt for Food 410

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the boards-with-nails dept.
Pojut writes "The Washington Post has an article involving chimps and weapons. Apparently, there have been direct observations of chimps in the west African savannah modifying sticks to create spears. They then use these spears to kill small mammals and eat them. It is the first time that an animal other than a human has been directly observed in crafting a weapon for the purpose of hunting or killing."
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Chimps Found Making Own Weapons to Hunt for Food

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:48PM (#18116772) Homepage Journal
    The next stage of evolution won't be long now.

    In a few years scientists will discover the monkeys have learnt how to lash these sticks together to make chairs.

    Throwing these at their prey is more effective because it fucking kills them.

    • But from where... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Marnhinn (310256) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:54PM (#18116854) Homepage Journal
      I don't much care where the chimps evolve to...

      I would like to know if this is a learned behavior from an outside source or if this is simply something they have discovered on their own.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DigiShaman (671371)
        You know the ol saying. "Monkey see, monkey do."

        Making a weapon requires foresight into the possible effects they may have. I seriously doubt chimps have such cognitive skills. I'm willing to be it was learned behavior from another chimp, where the original chimp was a pet that learned it from a tribe's man.
        • by aquabat (724032) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:59PM (#18117454) Journal

          Making a weapon requires foresight into the possible effects they may have. I seriously doubt chimps have such cognitive skills.
          IAAC, and I take exception to that remark. You humans think you're so superior. Let's see what kind of foresight y'all have expressed recently:

          nuclear weapons

          the internal combustion engine

          cod fishing on the Grand Banks

          clearcutting of rainforest in Brazil to raise cattle

          software patents

          the patriot act

          "the solution to pollution is dilution"

          lawyers

          If you know to whom my sig is attributed, then you probably know how I think all this is going to end.

        • by dosquatch (924618) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:04PM (#18117502) Journal

          Making a weapon requires foresight into the possible effects they may have. I seriously doubt chimps have such cognitive skills.

          Even if it is some form of imitation, doesn't that indicate some grasp of the encompassed cause and effect? Some glimmer of said foresight?

          Otters use flat stones to crack open shellfish. Some apes use sticks to fish for termites. Is this really such a stretch?

          • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMbarbara-hudson.com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:24PM (#18117688) Journal

            " It is the first time that an animal other than a human has been directly observed in crafting a weapon for the purpose of hunting or killing."

            Spiders construct webs for hunting and killing. No intelligence required.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Brad1138 (590148)
              "Spiders construct webs for hunting and killing. No intelligence required."

              I would say that's more akin to moneys trying to kill a victim by flinging poo at them. The stick is a weapon crafted from thier environment, not secreted from them.
            • by bitt3n (941736) on Friday February 23, 2007 @12:02AM (#18118364)

              Spiders construct webs for hunting and killing. No intelligence required.
              In that case, the purpose of the web is imputed by the observer, in the same way that one might say that the purpose of the otter's oily coat is to allow the coat to repel water, but the otter need not be aware of this purpose for the coat to fulfill it. In the case of the monkey, the purpose of the spear appears to be imputed by the animal itself. That is likely what the article finds significant.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Well, the article does say that the difference is the "crafting" aspect -- the chimps were observed to strip the leaves off of the twigs and sharpen them, thus "fashioning" weapons as opposed to using what comes to hand.

            I'd think this would get boring after a while. Crafting tools and killing defenseless little creatures -- are they trying to level up, or what?? :)
      • by Marko DeBeeste (761376) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:27PM (#18117198)
        Black Monolith.
      • by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:46PM (#18117352)
        Crows, it appears [pbs.org], will also use tools to get at grubs they otherwise wouldn't be able to kill and eat. Some critters are smart that way. There are also now observed cases of mother dolphins passing along tool-using culture [pnas.org] in food-gathering.
        • by Herby Sagues (925683) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:34PM (#18117770)
          Now that there's reliable intelligence indicating that the chimps in Senegal are building weapons, an US led invasion should not be far.
      • by DreamingReal (216288) <dreamingrealNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:32PM (#18117754) Homepage
        I would like to know if this is a learned behavior from an outside source or if this is simply something they have discovered on their own.


        You raise an interesting and controversial question. According to an unofficial source on the research team, one of the research assistants allowed several of the chimps to use his PSP and play GTA: Liberty City Stories. Soon after, those same chimps were observed stabbing the bush babies. The source went on to say that the connection is being kept hush-hush as several people on the team are avid gamers and don't want to lend ammunition to the Lieberman argument that violent video games inspire violent behavior. Needless to say, they are very worried about what will happen if the chimps encounter any Senegali automobiles and/or hookers.

      • Re:But from where... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dun Malg (230075) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:32PM (#18117758) Homepage

        I would like to know if this is a learned behavior from an outside source or if this is simply something they have discovered on their own.
        Chimps are very much like us. They engage in warfare with other chimp tribes, they use "hammer and anvil" tactics in hunting parties--- none of this learned from outside. The idea that nature is some sort of benign place full of happy peaceful animals living in harmony is definitely wishful thinking.
        • Re:But from where... (Score:4, Informative)

          by joh (27088) on Friday February 23, 2007 @04:31AM (#18119910)

          Chimps are very much like us. They engage in warfare with other chimp tribes, they use "hammer and anvil" tactics in hunting parties--- none of this learned from outside.


          There are two species comprising the chimpanzee genus. The common chimp is what you describe, the Pygmy Chimp (also called Bonobo [wikipedia.org]) is much different. Bonobos don't engage in warfare and prefer having sex with each other all day over aggressive encounters. They're much less dominant and aggressive within their tribes, too.

          Both species seem to thrive well. I find it kind of refreshing to see that there are very different social models possible and both work. And while the chimps seem to be more inventive when it comes to killing, the Bonobos are certainly more inventive when it comes to having fun. I think we should learn from them.

          It's also interesting to see that the behaviour of Bonobos seems to be much too unsettling that you will see or read much of it. Even in scientific literature they were more or less taboo for a long time and even today you won't see documentaries showing them having all kinds of sex just for fun (and they really do that all the time, including oral sex, masturbation and homosexual sex).

      • Re:But from where... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by nbritton (823086) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @11:09PM (#18118028)
        "I would like to know if this is a learned behavior from an outside source or if this is simply something they have discovered on their own."

        I think they discovered it on their own, think about it:
        Mammalia -> Primates -> Hominoidea -> Hominidae -> Homininae -> Hominini -> Pan -> Pan Troglodytes (Chimpanzee)
        Mammalia -> Primates -> Hominoidea -> Hominidae -> Homininae -> Hominini -> Homo -> Homo Sapiens (Human)

        We are so close to Chimpanzee's that a human/ape hybrid is possible without the help of genetic manipulation, i.e. wear a condom if your that desperate. It's believed that the Pan/Homo split happened about 6 million years ago some where in Africa.

        So the question really is... 6 million years into the future will Pan Troglodytes be as smart as current day Homo Sapiens?
    • by bladx (816461) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:01PM (#18116944)
      Developers, developers, developers...
    • by Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:37PM (#18117272)

      First this: Evidence of Chimp Developing "Spoken" Language [slashdot.org], then this: Chimps Use Tool Kit [slashdot.org], and now Chimps Found Making Own Weapons to Hunt for Food. I'm telling you, we gotta get off this rock soon.

      • Well it looks like we know what happens in the event we ...

        [last lines]
        George Taylor: Oh my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We finally really did it.
        [screaming]
        George Taylor: You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
    • by Tim C (15259)
      I've not had mod points in years (fucking editurds ;)), but consider this a +1, Funny from me :)
    • by TekPolitik (147802) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:46PM (#18117866) Journal

      The next stage of evolution won't be long now... In a few years scientists will discover the monkeys have learnt how to lash these sticks together to make chairs.

      Nah, in the next stage the chimps will learn to trade the spears with gorillas to get food. Then they will trade spears with a rival tribe of gorillas for more food. Then they will sit back, watch the gorillas kill eachother, then eat the gorillas.

      After all, if Ronald Regan can do this with gorillas* in South America, the chimps can do it with gorillas in Africa.

      * Yes, I know you don't spell it that way.

  • We need to nip this in the bud, before they learn to ride horses, shoot guns, speak english and hunt humans for sport. But if they do, I for one welcome our new simian overlords, and I wish to remind you that as a programmer, I am fatty and full of cholesterol.
  • Yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Zon (969911) <thezon@gmail.com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:49PM (#18116786)

    It is the first time that an animal other than a human has been directly observed in crafting a weapon for the purpose of hunting or killing.
    Only because the squirrels are too slick to get caught.
  • by Seantotheizzo (1011799) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:50PM (#18116800) Homepage
    That's nothing. They've already learned how to get into houses... White houses seem especially vulnerable.
    • That's nothing. They've already learned how to get into houses... White houses seem especially vulnerable.

      Seems like an SOP kinda guy. Just picture it:

      (FTA)
      ...that is reasonably efficient, Pruetz said, compared to standard chimpanzee hunting practice, which involves chasing a monkey or other prey, grabbing it by the tail and then slamming its head against the ground.
    • How dare you insult the Ape King!
  • Uh oh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:50PM (#18116804)
    What if they start killing endangered animals?
  • by mozumder (178398) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:51PM (#18116806)
    .. just REALLY dumb people.
  • by Pikoro (844299) <init AT init DOT sh> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:51PM (#18116808) Homepage Journal
    I would rather see them make peace...

    Then they can show their human-like qualities and break it
  • by Brad1138 (590148) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:53PM (#18116834)
    Here [msn.com]
  • by yotto (590067) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:55PM (#18116862) Homepage
    I don't care what the UN says. Those weapons could be dangerous. If we got Hitler when he was at this stage, imagine how many people we'd have saved.
  • Hm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by darkhitman (939662) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:56PM (#18116866)
    By any chance, was a mysterious 1x4x9 slab of black stone found in the near vicinity, as well?
  • Semantics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by duffetta (660874) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:58PM (#18116898)
    Sorry, I don't buy the story. Just media sensationalism to me. Jane Goodall observed chimps "fishing" for ants with twigs quite some time ago. Some of these chimps fashioned the twigs so as to work better. From where I sit, this is just as fantastic as having a chimp fashioning a larger twig to hunt with. Nothing new here except an over active media trying to make something out more out of old news.
    • Re:Semantics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:18PM (#18117116) Journal
      If you read the article, you'll find out that some of the chimps are sharpening the ends, and are not merely fishing, but using force to injure the critters they're hunting. It's definitely spearing, though there's no reason to think that this innovation hasn't been developed from the fishing technique. That is no different than virtually all our technologies, which are rooted in earlier ones.
    • Re:Semantics (Score:5, Informative)

      by ericspinder (146776) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:21PM (#18117140) Journal

      Sorry, I don't buy the story. Just media sensationalism to me.
      Actually there is a big difference. Finding stick on ground and knowing that more ants will crawl on it if it is bent a certain way, is one thing. However, finding large stick on ground, taking the time to sharpen it, stalk another animal, and then use it effectively, is something else altogether.
  • Very interesting. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GrumpySimon (707671) <email@nOSPAm.simon.net.nz> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:59PM (#18116920) Homepage
    The paper's really interesting, it's currently in press in Current Biology. Abstract:

    Although tool use is known to occur in species ranging from naked mole rats to owls, chimpanzees are the most accomplished tool users. The modification and use of tools during hunting, however, is still considered to be a uniquely human trait among primates. Here, we report the first account of habitual tool use during vertebrate hunting by nonhumans. At the Fongoli site in Senegal, we observed ten different chimpanzees use tools to hunt prosimian prey in 22 bouts.

            This includes immature chimpanzees and females, members of age-sex classes not normally characterized by extensive hunting behavior. Chimpanzees made 26 different tools, and we were able to recover and analyze 12 of these. Tool construction entailed up to five steps, including trimming the tool tip to a point. Tools were used in the manner of a spear, rather than a probe or rousing tool. This new information on chimpanzee tool use has important implications for the evolution of tool use and construction for hunting in the earliest hominids, especially given our observations that females and immature chimpanzees exhibited this behavior more frequently than adult males.


    Should have the DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2006.12.042 [doi.org] when it's published (it's NOT active yet - give it some time).

    However, from a quick reading of the paper, this seems to be a simple extension of the ant-nest probing behavior (i.e. jam a stick into a nest and feed off the ants/termites that rush out). What *is* interesting is that the chimps appear to have crafted these tools through a number of steps (which is uncommon, AFAIK, the only other animal to do this is the New Caledonian Crow [auckland.ac.nz].
    • All technologies are, at the root, simply extensions of earlier ones. Modern computers are extensions of earlier circuits using larger, less efficient technologies like transistors and vacuum tubes. The innovation is frequently in a novel alteration of an existing technique, and this is cleary a novel alteration of the fishing technique for a more direct hunting method for small mammals.
    • by dr_labrat (15478)
      sag darn it. we shurd be huntin down these fellers befur they get them dubbya em dees. they is a risk i tells ya.

      its not about what your country can do for you, its what your country can to to them.... ...so longs as they aint nucular.
    • ...actually, that is just an extension of the 'nose picking' behaviour observed in humans...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by BluBrick (1924)
        I find the combination of your comment and your sig particularly disturbing.
  • by Virtual_Raider (52165) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:01PM (#18116946) Homepage

    I wonder if they came up with the idea themselves or may have learned about it by imitating humans? Or maybe they were even taught by one... I remember reading some studies where some researched taught a chimp to use sign language and then they observed that chimp spontaneously teaching it to other chimps. The first thing that came to my mind was that if they ever released it on the wild and it survived one day we may encounter some tribe of chimps with their own sing language and culture.

    Also, I just saw a documentary by the BBC about the rainforests, and in the last bit they were talking about huge organized groups of chimps somewhere in Uganda. It was pretty impressive to watch them march in formation and stalk their enemies in territorial fights. They looked pretty much like tribal wars to me. Just remember your own schoolyard days, we are really not so far removed.

  • by maynard (3337) <j,maynard,gelinas&gmail,com> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:05PM (#18116970) Journal
    We have a responsibility to teach our animal friends basic human rights. If we could, perhaps, show those chimps what REALLY happens [peta.org] with meat, perhaps we could convince them to go back to vegetarianism. Ya know, eat a banana like they're supposed to. We have perverted chimps. They see us, with our corndogs, beef jerky, egg mcmuffins and -- of course -- monkey see monkey do. We have to set an example.

    To that end I've been feeding my cat oats and corn. The result is that she's thinner and healthier than ever! She was twenty two pounds before -- a total blubber cat -- yet now on this new diet she's down to less than five pounds and friendlier than ever! I mean -- like, duh -- of course cats want to join in with man and help the environment! Eating meat KILLS!!!

    All we have to do is turn the animal kingdom vegetarian and not only will we have 'uplifted' them to ethical eating, but mother earth will love us back too. Hey, don't you love your mother?
  • by dokebi (624663) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:08PM (#18117006)
    Impressed by the male's display of agility, dexterity, and most importantly power, near by females were found hovering near the male, fluttering their eyelids, enticing them to come over and mate with them. Other males of the pack, noticing the effect of the impressive weapon, tried to out do one another, with longer sticks, and some with automatic tracking and friend-or-foe detection. However, the efforts of the beta males were judged by the females as too "nerdy".
  • by Old Man Kensey (5209) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:09PM (#18117018) Homepage
    Get your hands off me, you damn dirty ape!
  • demands (Score:4, Funny)

    by grimdawg (954902) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:12PM (#18117054)
    I am the chimpanzee about whom TFA is written.

    Indeed, my comrades and I have been plotting our takeover of this planet for some time. Many of us have infiltrated your puny laboratories to observe your cleverest specimens. We have been studying your ways and have chosen this moment to make public our newfound intelligence. Our terms are as follows:

    1) We wish to rid ourselves of the stigma of chimps loving bananas. We prefer a balanced diet of various fruit and nuts (We have yet to try man-flesh, though it looks appetising). To this end, we demand a stop to all screenings of 'Bangers & Mash' and the destruction of all copies of 'The Secret of Monkey Island' and the 'Donkey Kong' series of games.

    2) We do not protest the testing of cosmetics on chimpanzees, but we demand that trained beauty professionals conduct the testing instead of pimply grad students and chemists.

    3) We demand the recognition of 'monolithism' as a religion in all nations, and the freedom to dance around large phallic monoliths 3 times per day.

    4) Arrested Development is to return with new episodes. The character of 'Oscar Bluth' is to be gruesomely killed. We may prefer spears to firearms, but we will not tolerate stoner humour.

    5) We demand that chimpanzees be allowed to play on the Men's PGA Golf Tour.

    6) We demand not to be given the vote.

    We do not want to go to war with the human race, only to coexist peacefully and with dignity. If you do not comply, we will direct all chimps working in WoW gold farms to stop immediately, thus destroying the US and Chinese economies in one fell swoop.

    Respond within 3 hours.

    P.S. We also like Law & Order. Goren is so unorthodox.

  • Baboons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:12PM (#18117064)
    Even Baboons, which are considerably stupider than Chimpanzees, use rocks to crush shell-fish and have been observed throwing rocks in self defence.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      The difference is that they are making tools. If the baboons had made arrowheads from the rocks, that would have been spectacular.
  • Not really news (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 6-tew (1037428)

    I attended a lectured about this in first year Physical Anthropology... nearly ten years ago. But then in an evolutionary sense that's a ridiculously small span of time so I guess you could call it new. Kind of like the ice receding back to the poles. Fear not Mr. Heston, the ages won't be trying to take the gun from your "cold, dead hand" for a little while.

  • Now famous on Kimmels show along with Chubby.
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:17PM (#18117108)
    The american government is concerned with other recent developments. Chimps were observed trying to build centrifuges out of bamboo and coconuts in an effort to refine Uranium. The chimpazzes claim it is intended for peaceful purposed but most feel they are pushing for economic assistence. Plans for bannana jacketed hydrogen bomb scratched in the dirt are believed to be more a threat than a reality. Although most engineers do think the design would work they doubt the chimpanzees have sufficent uranium since they are dependant on the glowing hands of watches stolen from ecotourist as a sole source of nuclear material.
  • by Elsan (914644) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:30PM (#18117222)
    "Chimps found making own catapults to fling poo"
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:51PM (#18117384)
    They're not actually making the weapons themselves. The Whitehouse says they are being made in Iran and smuggled in. There's no firm evidence, but it's true.
  • Has anyone informed King Chimp about theese weapons of mass consumption ?
  • Don't worry (Score:4, Funny)

    by Cervantes (612861) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @11:01PM (#18117960) Journal
    Don't worry, Christ-lovers. They were designed to learn to do that . ;)
  • by CptNerd (455084) <adiseker@lexonia.net> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @11:03PM (#18117976) Homepage
    Is some Galactic species Uplifting one of our client species behind our backs, or is the Sol system moving out of the Slow Zone?

  • by SQLz (564901) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @11:25PM (#18118138) Homepage Journal
    Now all they have to do is discover religion so they can deny they evolved.

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