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Chimps Found Making Own Weapons to Hunt for Food

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the boards-with-nails dept.

News 410

Pojut writes "The Washington Post has an article involving chimps and weapons. Apparently, there have been direct observations of chimps in the west African savannah modifying sticks to create spears. They then use these spears to kill small mammals and eat them. It is the first time that an animal other than a human has been directly observed in crafting a weapon for the purpose of hunting or killing."

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410 comments

The next stage of evolution... (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116772)

The next stage of evolution won't be long now.

In a few years scientists will discover the monkeys have learnt how to lash these sticks together to make chairs.

Throwing these at their prey is more effective because it fucking kills them.

But from where... (5, Insightful)

Marnhinn (310256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116854)

I don't much care where the chimps evolve to...

I would like to know if this is a learned behavior from an outside source or if this is simply something they have discovered on their own.

Re:But from where... (2, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117194)

You know the ol saying. "Monkey see, monkey do."

Making a weapon requires foresight into the possible effects they may have. I seriously doubt chimps have such cognitive skills. I'm willing to be it was learned behavior from another chimp, where the original chimp was a pet that learned it from a tribe's man.

Re:But from where... (5, Funny)

aquabat (724032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117454)

Making a weapon requires foresight into the possible effects they may have. I seriously doubt chimps have such cognitive skills.
IAAC, and I take exception to that remark. You humans think you're so superior. Let's see what kind of foresight y'all have expressed recently:

nuclear weapons

the internal combustion engine

cod fishing on the Grand Banks

clearcutting of rainforest in Brazil to raise cattle

software patents

the patriot act

"the solution to pollution is dilution"

lawyers

If you know to whom my sig is attributed, then you probably know how I think all this is going to end.

Re:But from where... (5, Insightful)

dosquatch (924618) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117502)

Making a weapon requires foresight into the possible effects they may have. I seriously doubt chimps have such cognitive skills.

Even if it is some form of imitation, doesn't that indicate some grasp of the encompassed cause and effect? Some glimmer of said foresight?

Otters use flat stones to crack open shellfish. Some apes use sticks to fish for termites. Is this really such a stretch?

It's not just the chimps. (4, Informative)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117352)

Crows, it appears [pbs.org], will also use tools to get at grubs they otherwise wouldn't be able to kill and eat. Some critters are smart that way. There are also now observed cases of mother dolphins passing along tool-using culture [pnas.org] in food-gathering.

Re:It's not just the chimps. (1)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117512)

I've also seen documentary footage of otters (i think) selecting and using rocks to break open shellfish.

I think the significance here, however, is that sharpening sticks to make stabby devices represents an iumpressively sophisticated tool-creation process.

Re:The next stage of evolution... (1)

jaguth (1067484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117208)

Well, those monkeys may have become smarter, but as long as their hip joints haven't evolved, there won't be many chimps making chairs... ... but yes, good idea, we need more chairs with "made by chimps" on their tags, although i believe Ikea may have already beat them to it...

Re:The next stage of evolution... (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117308)

I've not had mod points in years (fucking editurds ;)), but consider this a +1, Funny from me :)

Re:The next stage of evolution... (0, Redundant)

$0.02 (618911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117398)

The next step they'll start throwing those chairs at their to "fscking kill them". Wait a minute. That already happened.

Get your Stinking Paws off me, you damn dirty ape! (5, Funny)

rednip (186217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116774)

We need to nip this in the bud, before they learn to ride horses, shoot guns, speak english and hunt humans for sport. But if they do, I for one welcome our new simian overlords, and I wish to remind you that as a programmer, I am fatty and full of cholesterol.

Re:Get your Stinking Paws off me, you damn dirty a (1)

Dracil (732975) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116830)

That just makes you nothing more than a tasty snack along the path of simian evolution into fat humans.

Re:Get your Stinking Paws off me, you damn dirty a (5, Funny)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116894)

We need to nip this in the bud, before they learn to ride horses, shoot guns

Too late [msn.com]

Re:Get your Stinking Paws off me, you damn dirty a (4, Funny)

boaworm (180781) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117346)

and I wish to remind you that as a programmer, I am fatty and full of cholesterol


Chimp 1: This one is fatty and full of cholesterol
Chimp 2: Mmm... bacon!

Re:Get your Stinking Paws off me, you damn dirty a (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117510)

I am fatty and full of cholesterol. ...and as a skinny person who is a bit familiar with the cullinary arts, I'd like to remind them that fat == flavor. Lean meat tends to be tough, stringy and bland in taste.

Don't make a monkey out of me. (1, Insightful)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116784)

It is the first time that an animal other than a human has been directly observed in crafting a weapon for the purpose of hunting or killing.
I don't know about anyone else, but I for one have never directly observed a human craft a weapon and then use it to hunt down an animal for food. The closest I've ever seen is seeing someone load their own cartridges and shoot tin cans off of a fence.

Re:Don't make a monkey out of me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116922)

Sounds like city talk to me.

Re:Don't make a monkey out of me. (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117106)

And related, these chimps have seen each other making weapons and killing things for a while now. As always, only us humans are the "real" observers in this universe, so before we've seen it, it's never been seen!!!11!1!

Re:Don't make a monkey out of me. (1)

DreadSpoon (653424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117152)

You need to come out to the SCA then. We all make our own weapons. Granted, I've yet to eat any of my opponents.

Yet.

Re:Don't make a monkey out of me. (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117166)

I don't know about anyone else, but I for one have never directly observed a human craft a weapon and then use it to hunt down an animal for food. The closest I've ever seen is seeing someone load their own cartridges and shoot tin cans off of a fence.

So, are you saying a chimpanzee built it?

Yeah (5, Funny)

The Zon (969911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116786)

It is the first time that an animal other than a human has been directly observed in crafting a weapon for the purpose of hunting or killing.
Only because the squirrels are too slick to get caught.

Re:Yeah (5, Interesting)

rilister (316428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116988)

The birds are in on it too: this totally blew me away.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYZnsO2ZgWo [youtube.com]
looks like an animal crafting a tool to me.

More about this here:
http://www.sciencemag.org/feature/data/crow/ [sciencemag.org]

Cheers,
Rob

This is news? (5, Funny)

Seantotheizzo (1011799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116800)

That's nothing. They've already learned how to get into houses... White houses seem especially vulnerable.

Re:This is news? (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116938)

That's nothing. They've already learned how to get into houses... White houses seem especially vulnerable.

Seems like an SOP kinda guy. Just picture it:

(FTA)
...that is reasonably efficient, Pruetz said, compared to standard chimpanzee hunting practice, which involves chasing a monkey or other prey, grabbing it by the tail and then slamming its head against the ground.

ooooh Chimpanzee that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116802)

Monkey news!

Animals are people too.. (4, Funny)

mozumder (178398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116806)

.. just REALLY dumb people.

A PERSON is smart... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116958)

A PERSON is smart...
...but you, however, are stupid.

HAH! You thought I was going to say "people are stupid!"

Re:Animals are people too.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117286)

but but.. people are animals too, so that makes people really dumb PEOPLE!

Chimps making weapons? (4, Funny)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116808)

I would rather see them make peace...

Then they can show their human-like qualities and break it

Obligatory... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116810)

I, for one, welcome our new weaponsmith chimps overlords.

next up comes the flight suits (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117374)

I, for one, welcome our new weaponsmith chimps overlords.

What do you mean "new"?

OBLIGITORY.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116814)

I for one welcome our spear-making, mammal-killing chimp overloards!

We should invade. (5, Funny)

yotto (590067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116862)

I don't care what the UN says. Those weapons could be dangerous. If we got Hitler when he was at this stage, imagine how many people we'd have saved.

Re:We should invade. (5, Funny)

Jurrasic (940901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117102)

Won't happen. For Dubya to call for an invasion on the chimps, he would have to admit beliving in evolution first. :p

Will they kill Jews like the Palisimians? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116884)

What's next? Strapping bombs on their teenage kids and aiming them at infidels? Or would that be a step back from using spears?

Semantics (3, Insightful)

duffetta (660874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116898)

Sorry, I don't buy the story. Just media sensationalism to me. Jane Goodall observed chimps "fishing" for ants with twigs quite some time ago. Some of these chimps fashioned the twigs so as to work better. From where I sit, this is just as fantastic as having a chimp fashioning a larger twig to hunt with. Nothing new here except an over active media trying to make something out more out of old news.

Re:Semantics (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117116)

If you read the article, you'll find out that some of the chimps are sharpening the ends, and are not merely fishing, but using force to injure the critters they're hunting. It's definitely spearing, though there's no reason to think that this innovation hasn't been developed from the fishing technique. That is no different than virtually all our technologies, which are rooted in earlier ones.

Re:Semantics (4, Informative)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117140)

Sorry, I don't buy the story. Just media sensationalism to me.
Actually there is a big difference. Finding stick on ground and knowing that more ants will crawl on it if it is bent a certain way, is one thing. However, finding large stick on ground, taking the time to sharpen it, stalk another animal, and then use it effectively, is something else altogether.

Re:Semantics (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117202)

...Nothing new here...

Obviously you are not a small mammal on the West African savannah!

Very interesting. (5, Interesting)

GrumpySimon (707671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116920)

The paper's really interesting, it's currently in press in Current Biology. Abstract:

Although tool use is known to occur in species ranging from naked mole rats to owls, chimpanzees are the most accomplished tool users. The modification and use of tools during hunting, however, is still considered to be a uniquely human trait among primates. Here, we report the first account of habitual tool use during vertebrate hunting by nonhumans. At the Fongoli site in Senegal, we observed ten different chimpanzees use tools to hunt prosimian prey in 22 bouts.

        This includes immature chimpanzees and females, members of age-sex classes not normally characterized by extensive hunting behavior. Chimpanzees made 26 different tools, and we were able to recover and analyze 12 of these. Tool construction entailed up to five steps, including trimming the tool tip to a point. Tools were used in the manner of a spear, rather than a probe or rousing tool. This new information on chimpanzee tool use has important implications for the evolution of tool use and construction for hunting in the earliest hominids, especially given our observations that females and immature chimpanzees exhibited this behavior more frequently than adult males.


Should have the DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2006.12.042 [doi.org] when it's published (it's NOT active yet - give it some time).

However, from a quick reading of the paper, this seems to be a simple extension of the ant-nest probing behavior (i.e. jam a stick into a nest and feed off the ants/termites that rush out). What *is* interesting is that the chimps appear to have crafted these tools through a number of steps (which is uncommon, AFAIK, the only other animal to do this is the New Caledonian Crow [auckland.ac.nz].

Re:Very interesting. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117138)

All technologies are, at the root, simply extensions of earlier ones. Modern computers are extensions of earlier circuits using larger, less efficient technologies like transistors and vacuum tubes. The innovation is frequently in a novel alteration of an existing technique, and this is cleary a novel alteration of the fishing technique for a more direct hunting method for small mammals.

Re:Very interesting. (1)

dr_labrat (15478) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117174)

sag darn it. we shurd be huntin down these fellers befur they get them dubbya em dees. they is a risk i tells ya.

its not about what your country can do for you, its what your country can to to them.... ...so longs as they aint nucular.

This is not too surprizing. (1)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116936)

Chimps have opposable thumbs. I wouldn't worry about them getting the Bomb anytime soon, but making tools for various purposes has been observered.

Re:This is not too surprizing. (2, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117056)

I wouldn't worry about them getting the Bomb anytime soon, but making tools for various purposes has been observered. But typing Shakesphere is more likely with our fancy word processing software. Then again, who do you think would type Shakesphere first, a room full of a million monkeys with word processors, or a room full of a million Shakesphere trained parrots who are using Vista speech recognition?

So they're smarter than native Africans? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116940)

Pretty soon these chimps will outskill niggers and take over the continent. Would be a desirable change to see them destroy the useless population of AIDS infested and cannibalistic savage niggers.

mod parent up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117428)

If those filthy niggers could take care of themselves we wouldn't have to waste billions of dollars every single year just so they can feed their starving babies.

1. There is not enough food to go around.
2. Disease is rampant and out of control.
3. ???
4. HAVE LOTS OF NIGGLETS!!!!!

Seriously, niggers are dumb but African niggers are just fucking retarded.

I wonder if they came up with it... (2, Insightful)

Virtual_Raider (52165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116946)

I wonder if they came up with the idea themselves or may have learned about it by imitating humans? Or maybe they were even taught by one... I remember reading some studies where some researched taught a chimp to use sign language and then they observed that chimp spontaneously teaching it to other chimps. The first thing that came to my mind was that if they ever released it on the wild and it survived one day we may encounter some tribe of chimps with their own sing language and culture.

Also, I just saw a documentary by the BBC about the rainforests, and in the last bit they were talking about huge organized groups of chimps somewhere in Uganda. It was pretty impressive to watch them march in formation and stalk their enemies in territorial fights. They looked pretty much like tribal wars to me. Just remember your own schoolyard days, we are really not so far removed.

We have a responsibility (4, Funny)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116970)

We have a responsibility to teach our animal friends basic human rights. If we could, perhaps, show those chimps what REALLY happens [peta.org] with meat, perhaps we could convince them to go back to vegetarianism. Ya know, eat a banana like they're supposed to. We have perverted chimps. They see us, with our corndogs, beef jerky, egg mcmuffins and -- of course -- monkey see monkey do. We have to set an example.

To that end I've been feeding my cat oats and corn. The result is that she's thinner and healthier than ever! She was twenty two pounds before -- a total blubber cat -- yet now on this new diet she's down to less than five pounds and friendlier than ever! I mean -- like, duh -- of course cats want to join in with man and help the environment! Eating meat KILLS!!!

All we have to do is turn the animal kingdom vegetarian and not only will we have 'uplifted' them to ethical eating, but mother earth will love us back too. Hey, don't you love your mother?

No no no (1)

GlitchyBits (1066840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116980)

It is the first time that an animal other than a human has been directly observed in crafting a weapon for the purpose of hunting or killing.

In fact, it's already patented chimp, so you'd better drop that ... /stabbed

UPDATE: Nearby females notice... (3, Funny)

dokebi (624663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117006)

Impressed by the male's display of agility, dexterity, and most importantly power, near by females were found hovering near the male, fluttering their eyelids, enticing them to come over and mate with them. Other males of the pack, noticing the effect of the impressive weapon, tried to out do one another, with longer sticks, and some with automatic tracking and friend-or-foe detection. However, the efforts of the beta males were judged by the females as too "nerdy".

Re:UPDATE: Nearby females notice... (4, Informative)

puppetman (131489) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117036)

It was the females making the tools, not the males. A woman's body-building competition might be more apt here.

What!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117022)

West African Chimps are making WMDs (Weapons of Mammal Destruction)!?

When is the US scheduled to invade?

killing animals making tools? (-1, Flamebait)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117032)

It is the first time that an animal other than a human has been directly observed in crafting a weapon for the purpose of hunting or killing.

    I guess the original poster hasn't been spending much time reading the newspapers about what's happening in Iraq lately.

    By no one's definition of the term could creatures who place a truckload of high explosives into a crowded marketplace and blow hundreds of people to meat chunks be considered human.

    "Human" isn't an anthropological term. It's a state of being that a group of creatures obtain when other civilized humans say that they have reached that state. You don't have to read many newspapers to realize that the creatures that are murdering each other in Iraq because some bizarre concept of 'God' tells them to do so have a long way to go before any civilized group of people on Earth consider them to be human.

Have a nice day. Try to stay away from people driving junk cars in crowded places and screaming "Allah Akbar!" to themselves. 'cause they ain't human.

Re:killing animals making tools? (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117120)

By no one's definition of the term could creatures who place a truckload of high explosives into a crowded marketplace and blow hundreds of people to meat chunks be considered human.

      Congratulations. Dehumanization is the first important step down the path to genocide. The jews in Nazi Germany weren't "human" either. Carry on.

Re:killing animals making tools? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117218)

'...blowing them to meat chunks...' Well, it was a market. Maybe they were hungry.

Re:killing animals making tools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117242)

Have a nice day. Try to stay away from people driving junk cars in crowded places and screaming "Allah Akbar!" to themselves. 'cause they ain't human.

I'm guessing you're from the south then.

Re:killing animals making tools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117462)

You should talk to a shrink about your own extremist views before you hurt yourself or someone else.

Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117050)

Don't point that spear at ME you damned dirty ape!

Watch out... (1)

zdc (1064870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117052)

...I have a feeling that they're going to be making what will be classified as WMDs any day now. George Bush... Protect Us!!!

demands (4, Funny)

grimdawg (954902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117054)

I am the chimpanzee about whom TFA is written.

Indeed, my comrades and I have been plotting our takeover of this planet for some time. Many of us have infiltrated your puny laboratories to observe your cleverest specimens. We have been studying your ways and have chosen this moment to make public our newfound intelligence. Our terms are as follows:

1) We wish to rid ourselves of the stigma of chimps loving bananas. We prefer a balanced diet of various fruit and nuts (We have yet to try man-flesh, though it looks appetising). To this end, we demand a stop to all screenings of 'Bangers & Mash' and the destruction of all copies of 'The Secret of Monkey Island' and the 'Donkey Kong' series of games.

2) We do not protest the testing of cosmetics on chimpanzees, but we demand that trained beauty professionals conduct the testing instead of pimply grad students and chemists.

3) We demand the recognition of 'monolithism' as a religion in all nations, and the freedom to dance around large phallic monoliths 3 times per day.

4) Arrested Development is to return with new episodes. The character of 'Oscar Bluth' is to be gruesomely killed. We may prefer spears to firearms, but we will not tolerate stoner humour.

5) We demand that chimpanzees be allowed to play on the Men's PGA Golf Tour.

6) We demand not to be given the vote.

We do not want to go to war with the human race, only to coexist peacefully and with dignity. If you do not comply, we will direct all chimps working in WoW gold farms to stop immediately, thus destroying the US and Chinese economies in one fell swoop.

Respond within 3 hours.

P.S. We also like Law & Order. Goren is so unorthodox.

Re:demands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117086)

We will do our best to accommodate you.

Re:demands (1)

downhole (831621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117416)

You have demonstrated your actual intelligence by posting your demands on Slashdot. The world will go on ignoring you.

Baboons (4, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117064)

Even Baboons, which are considerably stupider than Chimpanzees, use rocks to crush shell-fish and have been observed throwing rocks in self defence.

Re:Baboons (2, Insightful)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117210)

The difference is that they are making tools. If the baboons had made arrowheads from the rocks, that would have been spectacular.

Not really news (2, Interesting)

6-tew (1037428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117082)

I attended a lectured about this in first year Physical Anthropology... nearly ten years ago. But then in an evolutionary sense that's a ridiculously small span of time so I guess you could call it new. Kind of like the ice receding back to the poles. Fear not Mr. Heston, the ages won't be trying to take the gun from your "cold, dead hand" for a little while.

Disturbing revelations (2, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117108)

The american government is concerned with other recent developments. Chimps were observed trying to build centrifuges out of bamboo and coconuts in an effort to refine Uranium. The chimpazzes claim it is intended for peaceful purposed but most feel they are pushing for economic assistence. Plans for bannana jacketed hydrogen bomb scratched in the dirt are believed to be more a threat than a reality. Although most engineers do think the design would work they doubt the chimpanzees have sufficent uranium since they are dependant on the glowing hands of watches stolen from ecotourist as a sole source of nuclear material.

The chimps created Spears (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117114)

but then she shaved her head, partied without underwear, and got tattoos all over. The chimps were very disappointed with their creation, and evolution took one giant step backward.

They bought the tech from A.Q. Khan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117206)

This sort of technology is being bought and sold on the open market these days.

Dr. Zaius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117248)

Cornelius!

Later... (1, Flamebait)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117250)

These same chimps also have a complete IT staff and developers working on a Linux distro called CHIMPUX.

The Head of the Chimpux architecture team said, "We'd like to see Linux evolve to something useable. Since chimps are one step higher than your typical linux geek on the evolutionary ladder, who better than us to bring it to the masses."

Chimpux International is in trouble on several fronts for their company motto, "Chimpux for the rest of us, So easy a caveman can use it." Riled Apple and GEICO execs are considering action. The cavemen are torn, they'd really like to see a useable form of Linux so they don't want to stir Chimpux's pot.

Weapons Smuggled In (4, Funny)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117384)

They're not actually making the weapons themselves. The Whitehouse says they are being made in Iran and smuggled in. There's no firm evidence, but it's true.

Re:Weapons Smuggled In (1)

Starburnt (860851) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117444)

I think you'll find they're made in the U.S. Expect W. to declare a War on Chimps some time soon. Er, wait a minute...

mod 30wn (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117452)

And its longJ term win out; either the
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