A new international study, conducted among chimpanzee communities across Africa, suggests that murder comes naturally to this type of primates, contrary to the previous view that linked the behavior to human activity.
In a report published in the online journal Nature, a group of more than 30 scientists say they witnessed 58 instances in which fights between groups of mostly male chimps resulted in death. They found evidence of other bloody battles, usually along borders between established chimps’ communities, totaling 152 killings.
After entering their data into a computer model, scientists concluded that lethal aggression is the consequence of a natural process that rewards the winners with territory, food and mates, eventually leading to better opportunities to pass on their genes.
Previously, anthropologists had linked murderous behavior among chimpanzees to human activity, such as shrinking their natural habitat and providing them with food. Some scientists still dispute the latest findings, saying human activities could still provide underlying reasons for the chimps’ adaptive strategies.
The study was led by anthropologists from the University of Minnesota.