-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- A group of chimpanzees at
a research site frequently share hunting tools and food with each
other, something that's widely regarded as a defining
characteristic of human behavior.
The finding may shed light on how the earliest humans first
started sharing, according to study author Jill Pruetz, a professor
of anthropology at Iowa State University.
She and her colleagues observed chimpanzees at the Fongoli
research site in Senegal and recorded 41 cases of the chimpanzees
sharing either wild plant foods or hunting tools with each
Previous studies have documented chimps sharing meat, but this
is the first to describe the sharing of items other than meat among
chimps that were not related.
The Fongoli chimps are "not the only chimps that share, but in
terms of the resources that we cover here, that is unique," Pruetz
said in a university news release. "I guess all chimps share meat,
but they don't share plants or tools. Yet they do here, in addition
to meat. It was intriguing when we first started seeing these
The Fongoli chimps are the only habituated community of chimps
living in a savannah environment and offer insight into the effect
of an open, dry and hot environment on social behavior and
organization, Pruetz said.
That means they could provide clues about how the earliest
humans began to share.
"There are aspects of human behavior, and I think that's interesting because it's not exactly the same, but it may give you an idea of how it [sharing among early humans] started," Pruetz said. "It's at least one scenario and how it could have come about in our own lineage. To me, it just reinforces how important environment was."
The study is available online in advance of publication in an
upcoming print issue of
The Jane Goodall Institute of Canada has more about
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