Navigation Links
Chimpanzee ground nests offer new insight into our ancestors descent from the trees
Date:4/16/2012

The first study into rarely documented ground-nest building by wild chimpanzees offers new clues about the ancient transition of early hominins from sleeping in trees to sleeping on the ground. While most apes build nests in trees, this study, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, focused on a group of wild West African chimpanzees that often shows ground-nesting behaviour.

An international team of primatologists from the University of Cambridge and Kyoto University, led by Dr Kathelijne Koops, studied the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) population in the Nimba Mountains in Guinea, West Africa. All species of great ape build nests to sleep in each night. Construction of these shelters takes minutes as the apes bend, break and interweave branches into a circular frame, followed by tucking in smaller branches to form a sturdy but comfortable sleeping platform.

"We believe that, like modern apes, the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans also slept in the trees 6 million years ago," said Dr Koops. "However, these nests are not preserved in the fossil or archaeological record, so it is impossible to study directly the ancient transition from sleeping in trees to building shelters on the ground. Recording this rare behaviour in the chimpanzee, our closest relative, may provide vital clues."

As the Nimba chimpanzees do not yet tolerate human presence at close range, the team used new molecular genetic techniques to analyse hairs collected from the nests. This allowed the team to establish the sex of chimpanzees displaying the behaviour and to identify individuals in the group.

The team showed that as chimpanzees sleep both on the ground and in the trees, the transition from trees to the ground did not require a special evolutionary adaptation. This suggests that early hominins may have slept on the ground before the emergence of Homo erectus ('upright man'), the first species which was fully adapted to living on the ground. "This is intriguing as it has long been believed that coming down from the trees was a crucial evolutionary shift," said Koops. "However, this chimpanzees' behaviour suggests a more deep-seated, gradual transition from tree-to-ground sleep."

Other theories for the tree-to-ground transition have included the use of fire and the scarcity of trees in open habitats. The team demonstrated that neither is a prerequisite for ground sleeping, as the chimpanzees live in a plentiful evergreen rainforest and do not create fire.

"These chimpanzees offer a rare opportunity to investigate why a population of wild apes chooses to sleep on the ground," concluded Koops. "We showed that ground-nesting was not caused by male mate-guarding behaviour, a lack of trees in which to nest, or because of fire. This suggests that our direct ancestors were neither the only, nor the first, species to come down from the trees."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jennifer Beal
lifesciencenews@wiley.com
44-124-377-0633
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. In a last stronghold for endangered chimpanzees, survey finds drastic decline
2. Genetic differences between yeasts greater than those between humans and chimpanzees
3. Rwandas Forest of Hope to expand by 21 percent, begin corridor for endangered chimpanzees
4. Chimpanzees help each other on request but not voluntarily
5. Why chimpanzees attack and kill each other
6. Mans closest relationship under strain? New research reveals why chimpanzees attack humans
7. Young female chimpanzees appear to treat sticks as dolls
8. Chimpanzees contagious yawning evidence of empathy, not just sleepiness, study shows
9. Aging brains are different in humans and chimpanzees
10. Lincoln Park Zoo applauds government decision to consider reclassifying chimpanzees as endangered
11. Great news for chimpanzees
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2016)... -- First quarter 2016:   , Revenues ... first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was 49% ... and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings per ... from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , Outlook ... 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is estimated ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the ...  report to their offering.  ,      ... gait biometrics market is expected to grow at ... Gait analysis generates multiple variables such ... compute factors that are not or cannot be ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... Florida , March 29, 2016 ... the "Company") LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased ... in ink used in a variety of writing instruments, ... Buyers of originally created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange ... forensic analysis of the DNA. Bill ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... Brooklyn, NY (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... 15mm, machines such as the Cary 5000 and the 6000i models are higher end ... height is the height of the spectrophotometer’s light beam from the bottom of the ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics ... development and commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class ... Epigenetic targets such as WDR5 represent an exciting ... significantly in precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a ... ways to harness living systems and biotechnology, announced its ... in New York City . ... students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during ... , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and design, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced ... of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The trials ... dose studies designed to assess the safety, tolerability, ... in healthy adult volunteers. Forty subjects ... single dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) or ...
Breaking Biology Technology: