The multistep spearmaking practice, documented by researchers in Senegal who spent years gaining the chimpanzees' trust, adds credence to the idea that human forebears fashioned similar tools millions of years ago.
The landmark observation also supports the long-debated proposition that females -- the main makers and users of spears among the Senegalese chimps -- tend to be the innovators and creative problem solvers in primate culture.
Using their hands and teeth, the chimpanzees were repeatedly seen tearing the side branches off long, straight sticks, peeling back the bark and sharpening one end. Then, grasping the weapons in a "power grip," they jabbed them into tree-branch hollows where bush babies -- small, monkeylike mammals -- sleep during the day.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
CHIMPS MAKE, USE WEAPONS
In the West African savannah, chimps are sharpening sticks, making spears and stabbing prey. Next stop: Advanced weaponry? Friday's Washington Post has the story:
Female chimps account for two-thirds of the observed weapons production.