A new international study collected 426 combined years of data in examining chimpanzee violence across 18 different communities. The study was to understand why chimpanzees might gang up and violently attack members of their own species. Primatologists have, for a long time, disagreed over the reasons behind their sometimes shocking behavior.
In the study, the research team reported 152 killings. Researchers actually witnessed, first hand, about one-third of these killings The PNC Voice reports. The other 100 or so were recorded as conclusions from analyzing data within the communities, observing circumstances surrounding the death of chimpanzees within these constructs or noting that one or more members of a chimpanzee community suddenly “disappeared.”
Researchers compared the statistics across all the chimpanzee communities for the study. They found that each community was well-defined. Each group had males that on patrol of a specific boundary or border to defend their territory. It is similar to human behavior as we protect the borders of our respective countries. Another similarity to humans lies in violent conflicts that arise in our communities when someone is threatening to infiltrate another community. For many years, scientists actually believed that human influence was to blame for chimpanzees learning to be violent.
However, the new research indicates this is not the case.
The research shows that chimpanzee violence is simply an example of natural selection. Brutal and violent, but natural selection. It is a consequence of competition – chimpanzees defend their territories for the purposes of sustaining their respective communities. They protect their food and water sources from outsiders as well as their progeny. When competition encroaches on their space, their natural response is violence. In many cases, this self-defense can be extremely brutal and end in a fatality, but in the end it comes down to the natural selection process.