Chimps: More males means boundary fights

Oct 18, 2005

University of Michigan scientists say the biggest predictor of territorial boundary patrols among wild chimpanzees is the number of males in the group.

Chimpanzees will sometimes attack and kill their neighbors during rarely observed boundary patrols, said John Mitani, professor of anthropology and co-author of the study with David Watts of Yale University.

Scientists have known for about 25 years that boundary patrol fatal attacks occur, the question has been what accounts for the varying number and frequency of such patrols and attacks.

During boundary patrols, a group of males will rise without warning, form a single file line and silently depart the group, Mitani said.

"What they are doing is actually seeking signs, if not contact, with members of other groups," Mitani said. "If the patrollers outnumber them, then they will launch an attack." During the attacks, the chimps beat and often kill their neighbors, but the patrols are apparently an important part of chimp society.

"They take up about two hours out of a 12-hour work day," Mitani said. "That is not trivial exercise..."

Added Mitani: "I think it's difficult to make any general conclusions about what this says about human behavior."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Inoculating against science denial

Related Stories

Why chimpanzees attack and kill each other

Jun 21, 2010

Bands of chimpanzees violently kill individuals from neighboring groups in order to expand their own territory, according to a 10-year study of a chimp community in Uganda that provides the first definitive ...

Recommended for you

Claims about the decline of the West are 'exaggerated'

6 hours ago

A new paper by Oxford researchers argues that some countries in Western Europe, and the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand now have birth rates that are now relatively close to replacement, that the underlying trend in ...

Bizarre 'platypus' dinosaur discovered

14 hours ago

Although closely related to the notorious carnivore Tyrannosaurus rex, a new lineage of dinosaur discovered in Chile is proving to be an evolutionary jigsaw puzzle, as it preferred to graze upon plants.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.