Friday, February 23, 2007

Chimps Use Spears To Hunt
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Researchers have witnessed a chimpanzee skewering a lemur-like creature for supper, but it's unclear whether the spectacle was a bit of luck or an indication that chimps have a more advanced ability to hunt than was thought.

A team led by Iowa State University anthropology professor Jill Pruetz witnessed the spearing of a bushbaby in Fongoli, Senegal, during an observation of chimpanzees from March 2005 to July 2006. In a study being released Thursday in the online version of the journal Current Biology, Pruetz documents 22 cases of chimps using spear-like tools to hunt bushbabies - a small primate that lives in hollow branches or tree trunks.

"It's not uncommon to have chimps use tools. But to use them in the context of hunting" is nearly unheard of, she said.