New study links chimp aggression to resource gain

Monday, June 21, 2010 - 6:30pm

A new study shows that male chimpanzee groups move into the territory of other chimpanzee groups to attack them and ultimately take over the territory or mates. But the scientists who conducted the study say they are reluctant to draw comparisons to human warfare. Instead, they are emphasizing the individual cooperation involved.

The Guardian quotes scientist John Mitani, a primate behavioral ecologist at the University of Michigan:

""[O]ur results might provide some insight into why we as a species are so unusually cooperative. The lethal intergroup aggression that we have witnessed is cooperative in nature, insofar as it involves coalitions of males attacking others. In the process, our chimpanzees have acquired more land and resources that are then redistributed to others in the group."

Scientists at Gombe National Park in Tanzania have documented aggression between groups of chimpanzees within the Park, and even documented a four-year "war" in which members of one group systematically killed members of a smaller, splinter group.

 

 

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