Active participation in group-hunts earns wild chimpanzees meat access

September 10, 2018, Max Planck Society
Prey catchers shared more frequently with hunters than non-hunters. Credit: Liran Samuni, Tai Chimpanzee Project

Wild chimpanzees of the Taï National Park, Ivory Coast, hunt in groups to catch monkeys. By observing group-hunts and meat sharing, an international team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, found that chimpanzee hunting behavior is a cooperative act that earns participants a fair share of the prey.

"Chimpanzee hunting success increased when more participated in the hunt or in joint prey searches prior to the start of a hunt", says Liran Samuni of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and first author of the study. "The sharing of following successful hunts encouraged hunt participation, as prey catchers shared more frequently with hunters than non-hunters, despite similar begging attempts."

Furthermore, the researchers found that chimpanzee hunting behavior was associated with the activation of oxytocin, a neuro-hormone established as a facilitator of cooperative behavior in humans and other animals. Oxytocin activation during chimpanzee hunting is a potential mechanism facilitating cooperative hunting. "Our new study provides strong support for the cooperative nature of hunting behavior in some , likely facilitated by neuroendocrine and behavioral mechanisms", says senior author Roman Wittig.

Like with humans, hunting success is likely motivation and performance dependent, with little guarantee that the effort invested in hunting will pay off. A mechanism in which active hunt participants that did not catch the are still rewarded with meat, a highly valuable food source, supports future cooperation to potentially increase performance.

The sharing of meat ensures a more predictable meat accessibility throughout the year, which could have shaped human brain development and life history traits. If cooperation in and meat accessibility have shaped humans' life history traits, this study indicates that similar selection pressures may also operate in shaping life history traits in chimpanzees, say the researchers.

Explore further: Dramatic differences spotted in chimp communities

More information: Liran Samuni et al, Reward of labor coordination and hunting success in wild chimpanzees, Communications Biology (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-018-0142-3

Related Stories

Key 'impact hunters' catalyze hunting among male chimpanzees

February 1, 2008

While hunting among chimpanzees is a group effort, key males, known as “impact hunters” are highly influential within the group. They are more likely to initiate a hunt, and hunts rarely occur in their absence, according ...

In chimpanzees, hunting and meat-eating is a man's business

March 26, 2013

(Phys.org) —Observations of hunting and meat eating in our closest living relatives, chimpanzees, suggest that regular inclusion of meat in the diet is not a characteristic unique to Homo. Wild chimpanzees are known to ...

Higher hormone oxytocin levels in chimpanzees who share food

January 15, 2014

The ability to form long-term cooperative relationships between unrelated individuals is one of the main reasons for human's extraordinary biological success, yet little is known about its evolution and mechanisms. The hormone ...

Oxytocin enhances social affiliation in chimpanzee groups

December 27, 2016

The high costs of individuals going to war is perplexing. Individuals are willing to suffer costs in order to benefit their own group, through cooperating and supporting their fellow group members and acting with hostility ...

Recommended for you

How quinoa plants shed excess salt and thrive in saline soils

September 21, 2018

Barely heard of a couple of years ago, quinoa today is common on European supermarket shelves. The hardy plant thrives even in saline soils. Researchers from the University of Würzburg have now determined how the plant gets ...

Basking sharks can jump as high and as fast as great whites

September 20, 2018

A collaborative team of marine biologists has discovered that basking sharks, hundreds of which are found off the shores of Ireland, Cornwall, the Isle of Man and Scotland, can jump as fast and as high out of the water as ...

Decoding the structure of an RNA-based CRISPR system

September 20, 2018

Over the past several years, CRISPR-Cas9 has moved beyond the lab bench and into the public zeitgeist. This gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 holds promise for correcting defects inside individual cells and potentially healing ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rrwillsj
5 / 5 (4) Sep 10, 2018
The beginning of human tribes?

There. I said it first! Before ottogimli shows up bore us all with another of his incoherent plagiarized rants on the subject.

So, a hormone, oxytocin, that encourages cooperative behavior. Resulting in an increased protein supply to supplement the regular diets of nomadic gatherers.

This really screws up the fantasies of "rugged individualism" expounded by the drunken rambles of ayn rand and the overweening egotism of the pseudo-libertarians.

Oh, don't even bother to boohoo to me! I'll believe in your delusions of "self-sufficiency" the day I see you successfully perform major surgery upon yourselves.
ddaye
5 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2018
This really screws up the fantasies of "rugged individualism" expounded by the drunken rambles of ayn rand and the overweening egotism of the pseudo-libertarians.
I think our lineage has been "collectivist" since way before primates. A universal punishment in all sorts of societies is ostracism. If we were actually an individualist species, that would be the highest reward.
Thorium Boy
1 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2018
Liberals should be denied meat then. It's ok, they'll soon regret their veganism, all that methane production from liberal ruminants.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Sep 11, 2018
I think our lineage has been "collectivist" since way before primates. A universal punishment in all sorts of societies is ostracism. If we were actually an individualist species, that would be the highest reward
Its called tribalism. Goodall observed it in apes.

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.