Chimpanzee Behavior: Chimp Wars Show That Murder and Violence are Not Exclusive to Humans [Report]

Chimpanzees are known to be one of the closest cousins of humans along with other primate species, mainly for sharing the same DNA and belonging to the same mammalian order. Despite our evident differences in terms of appearance and behavioral characteristics, humans and chimps descended from a common ancestor species that lived several million years ago before we deviated.

Because of this, there are some aspects of us that resemble those of our primate relatives: violence. Throughout history, humans have been recorded to engage in conflicts and wars, ranging from battles amongst kingdoms to civilizations, and even tribes. On a micro level, violence is also seen within the society, either involving individuals, groups, communities, or larger social structures.

However, this negative physical force is not only exclusive to humans as it is also exhibited by some animals, including non-human primates such as chimpanzees. In a recent report, experts say that chimpanzee behavior tells us that the subject matter of murder, cruelty, and other forms of violence are not only human traits. This is based on previously documented cases of chimpanzee murders.


Chimpanzee Behavior

Chimpanzee Behavior: Chimp Wars Show That Murder and Violence are Not Exclusive to Humans [Report]
(Photo : Photo by Margaux Ansel on Unsplash)

Based on an excerpt from The Beast Within: Humans as Animals published by the Johns Hopkins University Press this year, researcher Jessica Serra highlights the common aspects between animals and humans. Discussing various topics ranging from morality to emotions and intelligence, Serra theorizes human behavior and motivation have a resemblance with some animals.

One of the researcher’s subject matters in her work includes the dark side of chimpanzees, showing that our primate cousin is also capable of thinking, and engaging in war and violence, including murder. Specifically, the topic dwells on previously reported cases of chimpanzees killing their kin or members of other groups belonging to the same species called Pan troglodytes.

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Chimpanzee Murder Phenomenon

Dubbed “chimp wars,” chimpanzee murders in the wild are known to occur, suggesting that chimpanzee behavior is not only similar to the traits of wild animals in general but also to human violence. Yet, only a few cases of chimpanzee murder incidents have been observed and documented by scientists in the past. Typically, sightings of these phenomena happen during the aftermath.

This is not the first time that researchers looked into the unusual and violent chimpanzee murder phenomenon. According to a 2018 study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, scientists reported “numerous killings of chimpanzees by other chimpanzees” over the past several decades. Evidence includes wounds on fresh corpses or from post-mortem results.

Using the Mahale national park in Tanzania as one of this phenomenon’s sites, the researchers found that at least 29 chimpanzees died and were possibly victims of lethal aggression by conspecifics (members of the same species). Moreover, there are also video documentaries of this violent chimpanzee behavior posted online, as a result of rare footage captured by scientists.

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