Wednesday, April 11, 2007

First report of "cave chimps"

It's common to call our ancestors "cave men," although it was true only in the limited areas where suitable caves were available. Now cave-living behavior has been documented for the first time in another ape species. Savannah chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) have been recorded in Senegal using natural caves to escape the sun during the hottest part of the day. Credit for the find goes to a team led by primatologist Jill Pruetz from Iowa State University. According to, paleoanthropologist Adrienne Zihlman explained the significance this way: "These chimpanzees are dealing with conditions most chimpanzees don't have to deal with. They are giving a little window to some of the problems that have to be solved if you want to survive in the savannah, and are confronting the kinds of problems that our early human ancestors had to face."


Josef said...

The reports on these Chimps seem hyped.

Bears and snakes use caves also, why is the use of caves by chimps compared to early man?

The interpretation of their "spear" use also seems questionable.

Matt Bille said...

You have a point there. A variety of animals use caves. I think it got everyone's attention because apes making use of them is a previously undocumented phenomenon. Still, you may be right that too much is made of the parallel to primitive humans.