Friday, February 23, 2007

Jabby jabby catchy monkey. (Or rather bushbaby.)

In Senegal, chimps have been viewed fashioning and using spears to jab into tree hollows: apparently successfully capturing a bushbaby while under observation. I suppose even if they don't manage to impale any prey, such vigorous probing is likely to drive any creature hiding within to attempt to escape, giving an opportunity to grab it on exit.

You can read about it at the more learned Loom or read the Beeb's article. Or both, or somewhere else, or not at all, I don't mind. The Beeb have a photo of a chimp-created spear, which it chewed to a point.

This form of hunting appears to be habitual rather than occasional. The monkey hunts led by males that have been observed previously seem to involve a high-speed chasing-down of the prey, without use of tools, as far as I know. This newly observed behaviour is more akin to the termite/small insect fishing with sticks apes have long been known to engage in.

It is also interesting because it is primarily the females active in this. Of course this is the angle that is probably going to get most airing, especially in connection with human behaviour.

To me, it seems reasonable to expect that both sexes would be involved in acquiring food and that there ought not be a strict division in activities, but rather that any active member of a small social group would do its part of foraging and there should be a large amount of overlap. To rule out a portion of a group's able members on the basis of sex may be workable in larger societies, but it would unnecessarily constrain and limit small ones' abilities to feed themselves. Or at least that makes more sense to me than assuming a gender divide. Any individual should surely act on its opportunities to its own benefit and that of the group?

But I know nothing, I'm just rattling on.

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