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Chimps More Like Us Than We Knew, Share Food With Each Other

Chimps More Like Us Than We Knew, Share Food With Each Other
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Your next invitation to dinner may come from a chimp, at least if you are a chimpanzee from the Fongoli savanna of Senegal.

Iowa State University anthropologist Jill Pruetz’s latest report, co-authored by ISU graduate student Stacy Lindshield, further challenges beliefs about what separates humans from our animal neighbors. According to ScienceDaily:

The researchers witnessed 41 cases of Fongoli chimpanzees willingly transferring either wild plant foods or hunting tools to other chimpanzees. While previous research by primatologists had documented chimps transferring meat among other non-relatives, this is the first study to document non-meat sharing behavior.

Pruetz uses GPS to track the chimps. Sometimes she records their behavior using a flip camera, which does not unsettle them the way a bulky camera would. Thanks to satellite technology, she can stay in the field yet still deliver lectures to her Iowa students. She has amassed years of data.

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Photos from belgianchocolate via Flickr Creative Commons

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90 comments

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4:12PM PST on Jan 4, 2012

We're all animals.

7:33AM PST on Dec 30, 2011

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

7:11AM PST on Dec 16, 2011

i think there is a differance between sharing sharing and tolerating. you can have a trogh of food for dogs, and they can get along. but take one dog and move it away from another (by 20 feet or another room) and give the dog two biscots. the dog won't eat one and take the other to the other dog. this is the kind of sharing those rat and ape do.

6:34PM PST on Dec 15, 2011

Thanks for the info.

12:26AM PST on Dec 15, 2011

Time for us to realize we are all part of nature and are more like than unlike other animals.

3:04PM PST on Dec 14, 2011

they are not just sharing, they are using barter. a system. primates use sex and food as money.

11:04AM PST on Dec 14, 2011

A lot of animals share food with eachother.It's not that unusual and it is certainly not confined to Chimps.

6:57AM PST on Dec 14, 2011

Yup, they're just like us. They kill their own, just like us, out of no reason but pure anger, just like us. You know, the more people and 'primates' my wife and I know, the more we love birds! Our 'feathered kids', the 'wild brothers' outside whom we feed all winter long, it doesn't matter, to us they're all 'brothers of the feather'. We've got a saying around our house: "If it's got feathers, it's a groove".

5:39AM PST on Dec 14, 2011

Shan D:

~"Our 5 cats are very willing to share their food too, but not by handing it over, just by walking away if one of the other cats goes to their dish and starts eating it." -

That's not sharing. That's submission to the pecking order.~

Actually it isn't the pecking order. ALL of our cats will do that with ALL of the others. I've observed it daily for the last 7 years ....and the oldest, who does seem to be the alpha cat in many ways, will always leave her dish to allow any of the others to eat from it....and they all do it equally and frequently...like at every feeding.
In order to make sure they all get fed, I have to be present during meal time and see to it that they all eat only their own food from their own dish....and it isn't because they eat different food nor does it seem to be for any reason other than to share.

Our cats all get along really really unusually well and will sleep in a pile like a litter of kittens, even though they're all rescues who were adopted at different times. They truly seem to love each other and have for 7 years (when we brought in the last one).

I think when there is enough food, they're willing to share, and I don't think that's odd behavior for the most intelligent of animals....but I haven't observed lizards and bugs or wild bunnies or coyotes to see if they would do it too.

5:22AM PST on Dec 14, 2011

@ Shan. I have an interest in taxidermy, so any whole rodents I would get will be used. But the migratory bird protection act would stop me from using birds. My parents whom I live with won't let the cat be indoor only. He has a bell so, maybe the birds won't die.

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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