Humans were using weapons to hunt 2 million years ago, but recently a troop of chimps have been sighted wielding and using spears to stab their prey.
A ten year old study of chimpanzees in Senegal shows females playing a significant role in hunting. Among the 30 or so chimps observed by Dr. Pruetz and her colleagues, males caught 70 percent of the prey, mostly by chasing and running it down. However, study shows that these are the only apes hunting their prey with tools – broken tree branches, and females do the majority of that hunting for small primates called bush babies, according to New York Times.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Craig Stanford” author_title=”Anthropologist at the University of Southern California”]
The research was “really important” because it solidified the evidence for chimps hunting with tools, which Dr. Pruetz had reported in earlier papers. It also clearly shows the females are more involved than in other places. This study provides new evidence to already documented observations that female chimps are much more avid tool users than males are.
“The tools used for hunting were made from living tree branches that are detached and then modified by removing all the side branches and leaves. Some individuals also sharpened the tip of the branch with their teeth. They average about 75 centimeters (around 30 inches) in length,” lead author Jill Pruetz told Discovery News.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr. Jill Pruetz” author_title=”Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University and lead author of the study”]
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.
Will the chimps go for bigger pray or continue hunting bush babies, we’re yet to find out. In an unrelated study, scientists have sequenced genome of mountain gorillas and they explained the value of inbreeding for their survival. More on this story here.