Chimpanzee meat eating strategies, eat baby monkey brains first, with adult monkeys eat torsos first

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Primum Sapienti

Dec 1, 2021, 12:13:32 AM12/1/21


Chimps Eat Baby Monkey Brains First—A Clue to Human Evolution
The apes have surprising strategies for how they eat meat, a new study says.

A group of chimpanzees travels through the woodlands of Gombe National Park,
Tanzania, where Jane Goodall first began studying their kind back in 1960.
come upon red colobus monkeys.

Chimps survey their prey. A hunt begins. Chaos ensues as monkeys fall from
to the screams of chimps as they make their kill—all of it caught on video.

Ian Gilby, an anthropologist at Arizona State University and leader of a
new study
on the subject, originally filmed members of the habituated Kasekela chimp
community in Gombe to learn more about how they share meat.

Reviewing the videos later, he noticed that chimps eat subadult prey—infants,
juveniles, and adolescents—heads first. Chimps consuming adult prey show less
of a pattern, he found.

This left him with a little-studied question that's relevant to how humans
Why would the apes prefer to eat a particular body part first?

Gilby thinks it has to do with nutrition.

“We tend to just say meat is meat, but we know that the nutrient
composition varies,"
says Gilby, whose study appeared recently in the International Journal of
"The whole carcass is valuable, but the brain is especially valuable."

Brains are high in fat and a source of long-chain fatty acids, which aid
in neurological development.

And while a chimp might be able to crack a young monkey's skull with a
bite, the brains
of adult monkeys aren't as easy to access. Taking the time to try might
cause the chimp
to lose its kill to competitors.

Instead, when killing adult monkeys, chimps might find it more efficient
to start with nutrient-rich organs like livers: Likely why the Gombe
chimps sometimes targeted adult
monkeys' torsos first.

"It might be one of the first quantitative studies about how exactly a
prey item is eaten
by chimps," says Jill Pruetz, a biological anthropologist specializing in
primatology at
Texas State University and a National Geographic explorer.

Pruetz has seen similar behavior at her study site in Senegal, where she
studies hunting
as part of the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project and has observed chimps
eating bushbabies' heads first.

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