The researchers witnessed 41 cases of Fongoli chimpanzees willingly transferring either wild plant foods or hunting tools to other chimpanzees. While previous research by primatologists had documented chimps transferring meat among other non-relatives, this is the first study to document non-meat sharing behavior.
“They’re [the Fongoli chimps] not the only chimps that share, but in terms of the resources that we cover here, that is unique,” said Pruetz (left), who was named a 2008 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for her research on savanna chimpanzees in Senegal. “I guess all chimps share meat, but they don’t share plants or tools. Yet they do here, in addition to meat. It was intriguing when we first started seeing these events.”
They don’t say how many instances of non-sharing they witnessed. We are, of course, informed:
“There are aspects of human behavior, and I think that’s interesting because it’s not exactly the same, but it may give you an idea of how it [sharing among early humans] started,” Pruetz said. “It’s at least one scenario and how it could have come about in our own lineage.”
Then how do we address the fact that rats are supposed to be compassionate too?
The fact is, if you pay attention to any animals long enough they will sometimes act in ways you don’t expect. Some of us have even seen kindness in cats, a species justly renowned for its general selfishness. One can make up a “cause” (cat remembers its mother’s care?) but the cause is a speculation, because most cats don’t behave that way most of the time.