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Innate Behavior of Animals

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This Is War!
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Life During Wartime

Student Exploration

This Ain't No Fooling Around

War causes untold misery to humans all over the world. Many people believe war is unique to human beings, some say it is a sign of our savagery as a species, and some say it is a sign of our superiority and intellect. Central to both these views is the "uniqueness" of Homo sapiens compared to other animals, coupled with the notion (often held by people in urban environments) that "nature" is peace and love. Unfortunately, nature doesn't seem to care what Homo sapiens think.

Researchers have found that chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) hunt and kill cooperatively and go to war over territory. Find out more here:

Bonobos (Pan paniscus) is another species of chimpanzee. After observing Bonobos interact with each other in the wild, some researchers began to create an idealized picture of these great apes drawing distinctions between the enlightened Bonobo and the savage Chimpanzee, while pondering which was really our closest relative. Unfortunately, bonobos do not seem so peaceful when it comes to other species.

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions

  1. What is knuckle walking?
  2. What "tools" do chimpanzees use? Do you think these items are really tools? Explain your answer and give reasons for your opinion.
  3. How do chimpanzees and bonobos resolve internal group conflicts?
  4. What event 1.5 MYA do scientists feel may have led to chimpanzees and bonobos speciating?
  5. How do the geographical distribution of chimpanzees and bonobos compare?
  6. How do conguering chimpanzees deal with males, females and infants of the defeated troops?
  7. Do you think using violence to gain territory is a learned or innate behavior? Explain your reasoning.
  8. Do you think hunting cooperatively for food is a learned or innate behavior? Explain your reasoning.

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