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Road crossing in chimpanzees: A risky business

Kimberley J. Hockings, James R. Anderson, and Tetsuro Matsuzawa

Current Biology, 16, 668-670.

Road-crossing presents a new situation that calls for flexibility of responses by chimpanzees to variations in perceived risk. The chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea, West Africa, employ a phylogenetically-old mechanism to adapt to a more recent dangerous situation. The positioning of dominant and bolder individuals, in particular the alpha male, changed depending on both the degree of risk and number of adult males present; dominant individuals act cooperatively with a high level of flexibility to maximise group protection. Differences in progression orders may reflect the division of roles, and the collaboration among males to protect the females and their off-spring. This may also help shape hypotheses about emergence of hominoid adaptive social organization.

Video clip by Kimberley J. Hockings 1m35s


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