CHIMPANZZZZZZZZZ'S - 1 Intercommunity Violence in...

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Intercommunity Violence in Chimpanzees It is a cold rainy morning in the remote Gombe Stream Game Reserve, in East Africa. The sound of an infant chimpanzee is heard, and a group of adult chimpanzees races toward the sound. A female drops down from the tree holding a two or three year old infant in her arms and attempts a futile escape. One adult chimpanzee grabs her, bites, and begins pounding on her back. Tests have shown that a poorly conditioned, captive chimpanzee is still four to five times as strong as a well-conditioned human being (Peterson). Two other male chimpanzees attack the stranger as well and one grabs a hold of the helpless infant, charging off through the brush, flailing the infant against the ground until it is clearly dead. He then throws the infants body ahead of him and returns to attack the stranger female his group was still intensely assaulting. In minutes it is over. With the death of two stranger chimpanzees, a trend is continued that is all too familiar in chimpanzee societies: intercommunity violence. Researchers have provided detailed descriptions of intercommunity conflicts in chimpanzee societies. What these researchers have found sparks comparison between chimpanzee and human violence. Chimpanzees have been studied at over forty sites across Africa, but especially at five long-term sites: Budongo, Gombe, Kibale, Mahale, and Ngogo (Wilson). These studies have shown that intergroup aggression is a staple of chimpanzee societies. Males that unexpectedly disappear without sign of illness, or other factors such as predation, are assumed a victim of intergroup aggression. Male chimpanzees are in constant competition over territory, food, and females, continually striving to achieve and maintain dominance over neighboring groups. What implications 1
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might chimpanzee research have on the biological understanding of violence in our own society? Though 3% of a chimpanzee’s diet is meat, it was once widely accepted that they were strictly vegetarian. Observations of lethal intercommunity attacks in all five major research sites challenged this thinking and many comparisons between the warfare of humans and the aggression of chimpanzees followed. Human beings and chimpanzees share many traits aside from the 95% similarity in our DNA. Cooperation of males in defense of the group as a whole as well as the occurrence of lethal intergroup attacks, suggests that main components of human warfare either evolved in the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, or separately for similar reasons. There are three main objections to this thinking; the data on intercommunity relations is to small to support the hypothesis that chimpanzees are inherently violent; some critics argue that the aggression stems from human influence, especially the human researchers providing food for the chimpanzees; and finally, many think the violence of chimpanzees is irrelevant to understanding human behavior, because the motivations for human warfare are far more
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This note was uploaded on 03/18/2008 for the course ENG 102 taught by Professor Mcveigh during the Spring '08 term at Michigan State University.

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CHIMPANZZZZZZZZZ'S - 1 Intercommunity Violence in...

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