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: How big data can be used to understand major events

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

How big data can be used to understand major events

17 minutes ago

With the most unpredictable UK general election looming in modern times, how can big data be used to understand how elections are covered by the media? New research has for the first time analysed over 130,000 ...

Cities have memory and interact with their neighbors

25 minutes ago

Demographic changes in large cities depend on millions of individual decisions, but the population evolves depending on two factors: what 'reminds' them of their recent past and the existence of other urban ...

New (road) signs of the times?

4 hours ago

Traffic accidents claim lives, cause injury and cost money. Working on ways to reduce them is a constant battle.

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.