In the latest issue of Royal Society Open Science, a group of scientists describe how chimps use a hunting technique based on stabbing which is similar to what our ancestors might have used. The researchers observed a certain group of chimps in the wild to see how they made the spears they used when hunting.
One interesting aspect they noticed when observing this hunting method was that female chimps used their handcrafted weapons more often and better in comparison to their male counterparts.
The team observed the chimps in their natural habitat, in southeastern Senegal, West Africa. They noticed how the primates spent a lot of time to make these weapons as efficient as possible. Jill Pruetz, lead author and also professor in the Department of Anthropology at Iowa State University explained:
“The tools (spears) are made from living tree branches that are detached and then modified by removing all the side branches and leaves, as well as the flimsy terminal end of the branch. Some individuals further trim the tip of the tool with their teeth.”
She added that the weapons had an average length of 75 centimeters (around 30 inches).
With the finished spears, the chimps would quietly move behind bushbabies which are tiny, big-eyed primates and kill them through stabbing. Bushbabies are nocturnal animals that spend a big part of their day napping, making them an easy prey for chimps, especially if they capable of wielding spears.
The team noticed that female chimps where the ones who made and used these weapons more frequently. Males made use of their size and strength in order to hunt. The situation was different in the case of female chimps as they are carrying infants that ride on their abdomen or backs. So spears helped them in many ways as it was easier to kill a prey using weapons, instead of running after it.
Seeing that females obtained more benefits from weapons than males did, the team came up with a theory according to which it was probably the female chimps who discovered this hunting technique. As Pruetz explained:
“In a number of primate species, females are the innovators and more frequent tool users, so I think it is possible that a female invented this technique.”
Image Source: Discovery News