Chimps Make Spears and Birds Store Snacks

Posted on February 26, 2007

Chimpanzees in Senegal have been observed making wooden hunting spears according to a BBC news article.

Chimpanzees were observed jabbing the spears into hollow trunks or branches, over and over again. After the chimp removed the tool, it would frequently smell or lick it.

In the vast majority of cases, the chimps used the tools in the manner of a spear, not as probes. The researchers say they were using enough force to injure an animal that may have been hiding inside.

However, they did not photograph the behaviour, or capture it on film.

In one case, Pruetz and Bertolani, from the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies in Cambridge, UK, witnessed a chimpanzee extract a bushbaby with a spear.

Maybe the anthropologists will capture this amazing event on video next time. Meanwhile, a Reuters article says an experiment has found that birds plan ahead by storing food.
They set up a careful experiment to allow the birds to cache food in a certain way if they were indeed planning, and found the birds were up to the task.

Their study, published in the journal Nature, adds to several others that show animals such as great apes and certain birds can plan ahead in much the same way as people do.

"Knowledge of and planning for the future is a complex skill that is considered by many to be uniquely human," Nicola Clayton and colleagues at the University of Cambridge wrote.

"We show that the jays make provision for a future need, both by preferentially caching food in a place in which they have learnt that they will be hungry the following morning and by differentially storing a particular food in a place in which that type of food will not be available the next morning," they added.

Nicola Clayton and the University of Cambridge research terms wrote in their report that, "Knowledge of and planning for the future is a complex skill that is considered by many to be uniquely human." The experiment proves that birds are able to understand that they will be hungry in the future and plan for this future hunger by storing food.

More from Science Space & Robots