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Chimps caught engaging in 'sacred ritual'

Posted on Saturday, 5 March, 2016 | Comment icon 21 comments

Not all complex chimp behaviors are related to acquiring food. Image Credit: GFDL 1.2 Ikiwaner
Researchers have identified possible evidence that some chimpanzees engage in ritualistic practices.
Studies over the last sixty years have revealed that chimps are capable of many complex feeding behaviors, but now researchers working for the Max Planck Institute's Pan African Program have found evidence that our primate cousins may engage in other human-like activities as well.

The discovery was made after the team came across strange piles of rocks in several locations and set up cameras to film whatever the chimps were doing to create them.

The footage showed the animals picking up stones and throwing them at trees while making loud howling noises. Some of the trees were found to have large accumulations of rocks inside them.

While the researchers noted that it was mostly the male chimps that did this, some of the footage also showed female and juvenile chimps attempting to participate on some occasions.

So far the exact purpose of this unusual behavior remains a mystery however some of the scientists have speculated that it could have some form of cultural or ritualistic significance.

"Chimpanzee accumulative stone throwing and the subsequent aggregation of tools at particular trees shares two important features with human ritual practices," they wrote.

"The strong association to a particular location or site with a collection of artefacts over time, and ritualized behavior patterns."

Whether the stone-throwing and accumulation behaviors indicate that the chimpanzees possess their own primitive spiritual beliefs however remains, at least for the moment, unclear.

Source: Tech Times | Comments (21)

Tags: Chimpanzee

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by Darkenpath25 on 7 March, 2016, 5:53
It doesn't surprise me animals are amazing
Comment icon #13 Posted by DieChecker on 7 March, 2016, 6:06
I liked how the one chimp pulled out the big rock and then tried to do a one hand overhead slam dunk into the tree. I'm not sure it is ritual. Might just be a repeated worthless behavior. Chimps don't teach each other, they only watch and copy. So perhaps one mentally deranged ape attacked a tree with rocks one time and the others just picked it up and repeat it "just because". Thought that might be a reason for the invention of religion.... "just because" some crazy person imagined a supreme being 6000 years ago and everyone else just picked it up...
Comment icon #14 Posted by dburt2 on 7 March, 2016, 16:08
This is how aliens view humans and our silly "religious" rituals.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Atuke on 8 March, 2016, 18:15
The human capacity for anthropomorphicsm never ceases to amaze. Ah we have an anthropocentrist here. So you think humans are superior to animals? This is why the planet and all natural life is in peril...that way of thinking.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Eldorado on 9 March, 2016, 21:42
Some sort of chimp cult? The Chimp Monks.
Comment icon #17 Posted by third_eye on 10 March, 2016, 1:02
The Chimp Pions ~
Comment icon #18 Posted by noppohn on 11 March, 2016, 4:40
they are without sin, they are allowed to throw the first stone
Comment icon #19 Posted by docyabut2 on 11 March, 2016, 23:23
hey it was stone building, that these chimps were frist doing .
Comment icon #20 Posted by Mark56 on 20 March, 2016, 3:02
Oh nooo! Next they'll be knocking on our doors, disturbing us on Saturday afternoons, talking about their beliefs, then leaving us with pamphlets that we're not going to read.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Blizno on 21 March, 2016, 0:54
This could be hunting behavior. Some trees may be known to occasionally house a prey animal. Chimps might throw stones at those trees to startle prey into running, then chase it and eat it. They may throw dozens of stones at certain trees before one of the throws flushes a meal. To suggest that this has anything whatsoever to do with spirituality is nonsense.

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