Chimpanzees and gorillas cooperate in the wild

(ORDO NEWS) — The fact that monkeys are extremely sociable creatures, maintaining long-term relationships with representatives of their own species, scientists have known for a long time.

Now, the first evidence has emerged that primates also have interspecies cooperation: gorillas and chimpanzees have been communicating for many years, deriving mutual benefit from this.

In the tropical forests of the Republic of the Congo in Central Africa, two species of great apes live – chimpanzees and gorillas.

For more than 20 years, from 1999 to 2020, scientists have been monitoring these primates on a daily basis, recording a variety of behaviors, from games to aggression.

And what is most surprising, in some cases, it was not only about intraspecific, but also interspecific interaction.

Over the years, individual chimpanzees and individual gorillas interacted with each other, with the animals deliberately looking for “acquaintances” and avoiding other monkeys.

This was mainly done by young primates of both species, who then spent a lot of time playing with each other and foraging for food together.

At the same time, the authors of the study did not find that spending time together protected the monkeys from predators: on the contrary, moving away from the family to play with a member of another species, both chimpanzees and gorillas are at greater risk of being attacked by a leopard, eagle or snake.

Most likely, the monkeys united, looking for food: in 34 percent of the cases it was about the same source of food, in 18 – about different, but located in close proximity.

Scientists note that such close contacts between different species can be not only beneficial: alas, along with the possible transfer of new skills, there is also the possibility of exchanging pathogens of infectious diseases, which have become more and more dangerous in recent years.

Since chimpanzees and gorillas are close relatives, they can be infected by the same pathogens, including the Ebola virus, which about 20 years ago reduced the world populations of gorillas and chimpanzees in Central Africa by almost a third.

By studying interactions between great apes, scientists not only expand our knowledge of modern animals, but they can also hypothesize how communities of early human ancestors functioned.

For example, if earlier researchers believed that the use of the same food resources in the same area led to the competitive displacement of one species by another, now there is reason to believe that the contacts of ancient human species were more peaceful.

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