Chimpanzees are attacking gorillas in a ‘lethal’ manner, according to scientists investigating unusual behavior.
According to scientists, chimps in the wild have begun carrying out lethal attacks on gorillas for the first time.
At the Loango National Park in Gabon, attacks between the two species were witnessed. The study was published in the journal Nature on Monday by researchers from Osnabrück University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.
The researchers expected the chimps would be comfortable and playful in the presence of the gorillas.
In the study, Simone Pika, a cognitive biologist at Osnabrück University, noted, “Interactions between chimpanzees and gorillas have so far been deemed somewhat relaxed.”
“We’ve seen both species coexist harmoniously in forage trees on several occasions. Even playful interactions between the two great ape species were observed by our Congolese colleagues.”
However, the researchers saw the chimps assault gorillas and their young for the first time in December 2019.
“At first, we simply heard chimp shouts and assumed we were watching a routine confrontation between members of adjacent chimp communities,” Lara M. Southern, the study’s principal author, said in a statement.
“But then we heard chest beats, a gorilla-specific behavior, and we knew the chimps had come across a group of five gorillas.”
While the adult apes managed to flee, scientists discovered that some of the infants had been removed from their moms and died. A similar attack was also witnessed by the researchers, which resulted in the death of another gorilla infant.
The first attack lasted 52 minutes, while the second lasted 79 minutes. Despite the fact that both chimps and apes are territorial, experts are still trying to figure out what is causing the chimps to fight without provocation.
Tobias Deschner, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, remarked in the study, “Our data give the first evidence that the presence of chimpanzees can have a deadly influence on gorillas.”
“We now want to look at the mechanisms that lead to these unexpectedly aggressive interactions.”