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Study Reports Chimpanzees are Inherently Violent

Update Date: Sep 17, 2014 01:05 PM EDT

Chimpanzees are one of the many nonhuman primates that display signs of aggression and violence. Experts that have studied these animals for years have found that chimpanzees will engage in warfare with other chimpanzees for essential resources, such as mates and foods. Some researchers believe that this type of warfare is a part of their nature whereas others have theorized that chimpanzee-versus-chimpanzee aggression developed as a result of depleting resources caused by humans. In a recent study, researchers set out to answer the question of whether or not aggression is natural.

"This is an important question to get right. If we are using chimpanzees as a model for understanding human violence, we need to know what really causes chimpanzees to be violent," said study's lead author, Michael L. Wilson, a researcher from the University of Minnesota.

Although both theories have been supported by evidence over the years, the new study is reporting that chimpanzees are inherently violent. In this study, an international coalition of 30 ape researchers examined five decades worth of data. The research was taken from 18 chimpanzee communities that had different degrees of human interference.

Overall, there were a total 152 killings done by the chimpanzees. The majority of the violent acts were carried out by male chimpanzees and the victims of these attacks were also mainly male chimpanzees. The violent incidences were carried out for adaptive purposes and did not seem to be influenced by human interference.

"Humans have long impacted African tropical forests and chimpanzees, and one of the long-standing questions is if human disturbance is an underlying factor causing the lethal aggression observed," explained co-author David Morgan, PhD, research fellow with the Lester E Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago according to the press release. "A key take-away from this research is that human influence does not spur increased aggression within or between chimpanzee communities.

He added, "The more we learn about chimpanzee aggression and factors that trigger lethal attacks among chimpanzees, the more prepared park managers and government officials will be in addressing and mitigating risks to populations particularly with changing land use by humans in chimpanzee habitat."

The study was published in the journal, Nature.

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