Quirks and Quarks

Female Chimps Hunt With Tools

Researchers have found a chimpanzee group in which the females are more expert hunters than males due to their mastery of simple tools.

Female chimpanzees use spear-like tools to hunt bush babies

This adult female chimp named Tumbo is a top hunter in the troop in Fongoli, Senegal (Paco Bertolani)
A study of chimpanzees in Fongoli, Senegal, has found that the females are more likely to hunt using tools than males. 

The females make spears out of tree branches to jab at their favourite prey, a small primate known as a bush baby, while they sleep in cavities in trees.

According to Dr. Jill Pruetz, a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Iowa State University this behaviour is unique to this chimp group, and she attributes this to cultural differences between these chimps and others who live in different environments. Females at Fongoli are allowed to hunt without the fear of their prey being stolen by males as generally happens in other chimp groups.  The fact that females at Fongoli have learned to use tools in this way is indicative of the great diversity in chimp behaviour.

Related Links

Paper in the Royal Society Open Science
- Iowa State University release
New York Times story
Smithsonian Magazine story
- Discovery News story