Chimpanzees and gorillas team up for babysitting, grooming, food…

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Chimpanzees and gorillas team up for babysitting, grooming, food…

It has long been considered that the different species of monkeys are not not meant to live together. Nevertheless, a recent study carried out on chimpanzees and gorillas by biological anthropologists from theUniversity of Washington reveals that this theory is not fully verified. During observations, both species developed strange behaviors that suggest seeking mutual benefits.

Family of gorillas in a park

The subjects of the study are the lowland gorillas of western Congo (gorilla gorilla gorilla) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodyte). Scientists have noticed that these monkeys manage to share their know-how and their particularities to form mixed communities that are more likely to resist predator attacks.

Crickette Sanz, biological anthropologist of theUniversity of Washington, contributed greatly to the research. Observations were made in the Goualougo Triangle in the Republic of Congo and the results appear in the review iScience.

Towards an overhaul of current models?

According to old research, great apes could congregate to reduce the risk of predation. But the new study suggests otherwise. It was observed that the gorillas in the study responded to alarm calls from their peers. Moreover, it is the large groups of chimpanzees that are likely to hang out with the gorillasin contrast to small populations which tend to be more vulnerable to predators.

In some cases, a solitary chimpanzee might even leave its group to look elsewhere for a particular gorilla for protection. Great apes have even been surprised, leaving the protection of their community to congregate with chimpanzees.

When leveraging an alliance is essential for survival

The almost incomprehensible reactions of the two species lead scientists to suspect that their behaviors are guided by the search for reciprocal advantages. To confirm this theory, these animals have been observed in fig trees (fruit trees) which only bear fruit for three or four days.

The study found that when large groups of chimpanzees find food, they tell the gorillas while feeding. On the other hand, chimpanzees seem to seek in return other benefits.

The latter approached the young gorillas for company and play. Maybe these little monkeys are also looking for privileges like interspecies grooming or child care to the point of forgetting the competitive costs of a shared meal.

“The nature of the social relationships that have been noted within these animals suggests the presence of social awareness. Gorillas may be exploiting chimpanzee knowledge of the location of the ripe fig. »

The authors of the study


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