Posted on Category:Animal Care

Chimps Hold Examples for Protection and Human Development

Chimpanzees tend to sleep more on the ground than previously thought, a behavior that has implications for their conservation and could explain how and when the first humans left the trees to settle on the ground, according to a new study.

Until now, ground nesting was considered rare in most chimpanzee populations. It is known to be typical of gorillas, partly because of their weight.

Mature gorillas can weigh more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds), which makes it difficult to find trees bearing a nest.

A new study has revealed that relatively small chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) from the north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo often build nests and sleep on the ground during the night.

The study also revealed that this behavior persisted even when chimpanzees shared their territory with humans or with powerful predators such as lions, leopards or hyenas; what keeps them off the ground is human hunting.

The results have implications for the protection of chimpanzees. More deeply, the researchers claim that their findings suggest that the ancestors of mankind could have moved from trees to the ground earlier than previously thought.

“We have shown that ground reproduction is common not only in gorillas, but also in our closer cousins chimpanzees in a large part of their range (northern DR Congo),” said Toni Romani, a researcher at the University of Warsaw.

“This is relevant to our understanding of the factors that pushed our own ancestors to become completely earthly.”

Taming the fire

Scientists believe that hominids — the family of humans and all other modern and extinct great apes — made the soil native millions of years ago. But exactly when and how this happened is still poorly understood.

For example, there were questions about how small-sized hominids slept on the floor in a world filled with large predators. Some scientists have hypothesized that hominids left the safety of trees only after learning to light and control fires that they used to repel predators; others theorize that hominids protected themselves by building thorny structures.

However, when Romani and his colleagues examined data collected over a nine-year period in the Bili-Uéré countryside in the north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they found that ground-nesting chimpanzees were widespread despite the absence of fire, fortresses or a large body mass.

The researchers found that 10.4% of the Bili-Urchin nests were terrestrial.

Using statistical models to analyze factors affecting soil reproduction and nest height, the researchers found that chimpanzees built more nests on the ground in areas of dense forest and even slept on the ground in areas where large carnivores or humans were present. In a striking matter, ground nests were found to be particularly abundant in an area with the highest rates of experiences with peril predators.

“Our study shows that neither the Large body Size of gorillas nor the taming of fire are necessary conditions for hominids to be able to sleep on the ground overnight, even in areas with several species of large predators,” the researchers wrote.

However, the areas with the smallest number of nests on the ground were those with high rates of human hunting. The researchers assessed the latter rate based on the presence of animal carcasses or skins, hunting camps, snares, cartridges, shots and experiences with hunters.

Interesting Details

Michael Wilson, a chimpanzee expert at the University of Minnesota who was not involved in the research, said the study provided “interesting details” about the ground-dwelling breeding habits of chimpanzees. But, he said, it should be noted that today chimpanzees are less exposed to predators than ancient hominids-a reality that could influence the results of the study.

“This study on Bili chimpanzees revealed that only one of the remaining large predators of chimpanzees affected their sleep patterns: humans,” Wilson told Mongabay. “Although leopards, lions and hyenas persist in the region, their numbers probably seem lower than in the past, and the threat of predation in a current African forest is certainly lower than that of our ancestors who would have slept in more open habitats. given the greater number and diversity of large predators, both in open habitats and in the past in general, before human activities reduced the number of predators so much.”

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