Pan troglodytes (common chimpanzee) and Pan paniscus
(bonobo, in red)
Troglodytes E. Geoffroy, 1812 (preoccupied)
Mimetes Leach, 1820 (preoccupied)
Theranthropus Brookes, 1828
Chimpansee Voight, 1831
Anthropopithecus Blainville, 1839
Hylanthropus Gloger, 1841
Pseudanthropus Reichenbach, 1862
Engeco Haeckel, 1866
Fsihego DePauw, 1905
The taxonomical genus Pan (often referred to as chimpanzees or chimps)
consists of two extant species: the common chimpanzee and the bonobo.
Together with humans, gorillas, and orangutans they are part of the
Hominidae (the great apes). Native to sub-Saharan Africa,
common chimpanzees and bonobos are currently both found in the Congo
jungle, while only the common chimpanzee is also found further north
in West Africa. The two species are on the
IUCN "red list" of
critically endangered species and in 2017 the Convention on Migratory
Species, selected the common chimpanzee for special protection.
Chimpanzee and bonobo: comparison
3 Distribution and habitat
4 Evolutionary history
4.1 Evolutionary relationship
5 Anatomy and physiology
6.1 Muscle strength
Chimpanzee vs. bonobo
7.2.1 Social structure
7.2.3 Tool use
Altruism and emotivity
7.2.6 Communication between chimpanzees
7.2.9 Puzzle solving
8 Chimpanzees in human history
9 Research and study of chimpanzees
9.1 Studies of language
Laughter in apes
10 Chimps listed as endangered in the US
11 Chimpanzees as pets
12 Chimpanzees in popular culture
12.1 Chimpanzees in science fiction
13 See also
15 Further reading
16 External links
Chimpanzee and bonobo: comparison
The common chimpanzee (P. troglodytes) who live north of the Congo
River, and the bonobo (P. paniscus) who live south of it, were once
considered to be the same species, but since 1928 they have been
recognized as distinct. In addition, P. troglodytes is divided into
four subspecies, while P. paniscus is undivided. Based on genome
sequencing, these two extant Pan species diverged around one million
The most obvious differences are that chimpanzees are somewhat larger,
more aggressive and male-dominated, while the bonobos are more
gracile, peaceful, and female-dominated. Their hair is typically black
or brown. Males and females differ in size and appearance. Both chimps
and bonobos are some of the most social great apes, with social bonds
occurring throughout large communities. Fruit is the most important
component of a chimpanzee's diet; but they will also eat vegetation,
bark, honey, insects and even other chimps or monkeys. They can live
over 30 years in both the wild and captivity.
Chimpanzees and bonobos are equally humanity's closest living
relatives. As such, they are among the largest-brained and most
intelligent primates: they use a variety of sophisticated tools and
construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from branches and
foliage. Their learning abilities have been extensively studied. There
may even be distinctive cultures within populations. Field studies of
Pan troglodytes were pioneered by primatologist Jane Goodall. Both Pan
species are considered to be endangered as human activities have
caused severe declines in the populations and ranges of both species.
Threats to wild panina populations include poaching, habitat
destruction, and the illegal pet trade. Several conservation and
rehabilitation organisations are dedicated to the survival of Pan
species in the wild.
view • discuss • edit
Earliest stone tools
Earliest exit from Africa
Earliest fire use
Earliest in Europe
Axis scale: million years
Also see: Life timeline and Nature timeline
The first use of the name "chimpanze" is recorded in The London
Magazine in 1738, glossed as meaning "mockman" in a language of
"the Angolans" (apparently from a Bantu language; reportedly modern
Vili (Civili), a Zone H Bantu language, has the comparable
ci-mpenzi). The spelling chimpanzee is found in a 1758 supplement
to Chamber's Cyclopædia. The colloquialism "chimp" was most likely
coined some time in the late 1870s.
The common chimpanzee was named Simia troglodytes by Johann Friedrich
Blumenbach in 1776. The species name troglodytes is a reference to the
Troglodytae (literally "cave-goers"), an African people described by
Greco-Roman geographers. Blumenbach first used it in his De generis
humani varietate nativa liber ("On the natural varieties of the human
genus") in 1776, Linnaeus 1758 had already used Homo
troglodytes for a hypothetical mixture of human and orangutan.
The genus name Pan was first introduced by
Lorenz Oken in 1816. An
alternative Theranthropus was suggested by Brookes 1828 and Chimpansee
by Voigt 1831. Troglodytes was not available, as it had been given as
the name of a genus of wren (Troglodytidae) in 1809. The International
Commission on Zoological Nomenclature adopted Pan as the only official
name of the genus in 1895. The name is a reference to Pan, the
Greek god of nature and wilderness.
The bonobo, in the past also referred to as the "pygmy chimpanzee",
was given the species name of paniscus by
Ernst Schwarz (1929), a
diminutive of the theonym Pan.
In his book, The Third Chimpanzee, J. Diamond proposes that P.
troglodytes and P. paniscus belong with H. sapiens in the genus Homo,
rather than in Pan. He argues that other species have been
reclassified by genus for less genetic similarity than that between
humans and chimpanzees.
Distribution and habitat
There are two species of the genus Pan, both previously called
Common Chimpanzees or Pan troglodytes, are found almost exclusively in
the heavily forested regions of Central and West Africa. With at least
four commonly accepted subspecies, their population and distribution
is much more extensive than the Bonobos, in the past also called
Bonobos, Pan paniscus, are found only in Central Africa, south of the
Congo River and north of the
Kasai River (a tributary of the
Congo), in the humid forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo
of Central Africa.
Taxonomy of genus Pan
Phylogeny of superfamily Hominoidea(Fig. 4)
(P. t. troglodytes)
(P. t. verus)
(P. t. ellioti)
(P. t. schweinfurthii)
Bonobo (P. paniscus)
humans (genus Homo)
chimpanzees (genus Pan)
gorillas (genus Gorilla)
orangutans (genus Pongo)
gibbons (family Hylobatidae)
Further information: History of hominoid taxonomy
The genus Pan is part of the subfamily Homininae, to which humans also
belong. The lineages of chimpanzees[dubious – discuss] and humans
separated in a drawn-out process of speciation over the period of
roughly between twelve and five million years ago, making them
humanity's closest living relative. Research by Mary-Claire King
in 1973 found 99% identical
DNA between human beings and
chimpanzees. For some time, research modified that finding to
about 94% commonality, with some of the difference occurring in
noncoding DNA, but more recent knowledge states the difference in DNA
between humans, chimpanzees and bonobos at just about 1%–1.2%
The chimpanzee[dubious – discuss] fossil record has long been absent
and thought to have been due to the preservation bias in relation to
their environment. However, in 2005, chimpanzee fossils were
discovered and described by Sally McBrearty and colleagues. Existing
chimpanzee populations in West and Central Africa are separate from
the major human fossil sites in East Africa; however, chimpanzee
fossils have been reported from Kenya, indicating that both humans and
members of the Pan clade were present in the
East African Rift
East African Rift Valley
during the Middle Pleistocene.
Anatomy and physiology
Human and chimp skulls and brains (not to scale), as illustrated in
Gervais' Histoire naturelle des mammifères
The chimpanzee's brain on the left and the human brain on the right
have been scaled to the same size to show the relative proportions of
their parts. These drawings were in a book made in 1904 by Thomas
A chimpanzee's arms are longer than its legs. The male common chimp
stands up to 1.2 m (3.9 ft) high. Male adult wild chimps
weigh between 40 and 60 kg with females weighing
between 27 and 50 kg. When extended, the common chimp's long
arms span one and a half times the body's height. The bonobo is
slightly shorter and thinner than the common chimpanzee, but has
longer limbs. In trees, both species climb with their long, powerful
arms; on the ground, chimpanzees usually knuckle-walk, or walk on all
fours, clenching their fists and supporting themselves on the
knuckles. Chimpanzees are better suited for walking than orangutans,
because the chimp's feet have broader soles and shorter toes. The
bonobo has proportionately longer upper limbs and walks upright more
often than does the common chimpanzee. Both species can walk upright
on two legs when carrying objects with their hands and arms.
The chimpanzee is tailless; its coat is dark; its face, fingers, palms
of the hands, and soles of the feet are hairless. The exposed skin of
the face, hands, and feet varies from pink to very dark in both
species, but is generally lighter in younger individuals and darkens
with maturity. A University of Chicago Medical Centre study has found
significant genetic differences between chimpanzee populations. A
bony shelf over the eyes gives the forehead a receding appearance, and
the nose is flat. Although the jaws protrude, a chimp's lips are
thrust out only when it pouts.
The brain of a chimpanzee has been measured at a general range of
282–500 cm3. The human brain, in contrast, is about three
times larger, with a reported average volume of about
Chimpanzees reach puberty between the age of eight and ten
years.[dubious – discuss] A chimpanzee's testicles
are unusually large for its body size, with a combined weight of about
4 oz (110 g) compared to a gorilla's 1 oz (28 g)
or a human's 1.5 ounces (43 g). This relatively great size is
generally attributed to sperm competition due to the polyandrous
nature of chimpanzee mating behaviour.
In the wild, chimpanzees live to their 30s, while some
captured chimps have reached an age of 70 years and older.
Chimpanzees[dubious – discuss] are known for possessing great amount
of muscle strength, especially in their arms. However, compared to
humans the amount of strength reported in media and popular science is
greatly exaggerated with numbers of four to eight times the muscle
strength of a human. These numbers stem from two studies in 1923 and
1926 by a biologist named John Bauman. These studies were
refuted in 1943 and an adult male chimp was found to pull about the
same weight as an adult man. Corrected for their smaller body
sizes, chimpanzees were found to be stronger than humans but not
anywhere near four to eight times. In the 1960s these tests were
repeated and chimpanzees were found to have twice the strength of a
human when it came to pulling weights. The reason for the higher
strength seen in chimpanzees compared to humans are thought to come
from longer skeletal muscle fibers that can generate twice the work
output over a wider range of motion compared to skeletal muscle fibers
It is suspected that human observers can influence chimpanzee
behaviour. It is suggested that drones, camera traps and remote
microphones should be used rather than human observers.
Chimpanzee vs. bonobo
(video) Female chimpanzee at Tobu Zoo in Saitama, Japan
Anatomical differences between the common chimpanzee and the bonobo
are slight. Both are omnivorous adapted to a mainly frugivorous
diet. Yet sexual and social behaviours are markedly different.
The common chimpanzee has a troop culture based on beta males led by
an alpha male, and highly complex social relationships. The bonobo, on
the other hand, has egalitarian, nonviolent, matriarchal, sexually
receptive behaviour. Bonobos frequently have sex, sometimes to
help prevent and resolve conflicts. Different groups of chimpanzees
also have different cultural behaviour with preferences for types of
tools. The common chimpanzee tends to display greater aggression
than does the bonobo. The average captive chimpanzee sleeps 9
hours and 42 minutes per day.
Contrary to what the scientific name (Pan troglodytes) may suggest,
chimpanzees do not typically spend their time in caves, but there have
been reports of some of them seeking refuge in caves because of the
heat during daytime.
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Chimpanzees live in large multi-male and multi-female social groups,
which are called communities. Within a community, the position of an
individual and the influence the individual has on others dictates a
definite social hierarchy. Chimpanzees live in a leaner hierarchy
wherein more than one individual may be dominant enough to dominate
other members of lower rank. Typically, a dominant male is referred to
as the alpha male. The alpha male is the highest-ranking male that
controls the group and maintains order during disputes. In chimpanzee
society, the 'dominant male' sometimes is not the largest or strongest
male but rather the most manipulative and political male that can
influence the goings on within a group. Male chimpanzees typically
attain dominance by cultivating allies who will support that
individual during future ambitions for power. The alpha male regularly
displays by puffing his normally slim coat up to increase view size
and charge to seem as threatening and as powerful as possible; this
behaviour serves to intimidate other members and thereby maintain
power and authority, and it may be fundamental to the alpha male's
holding on to his status. Lower-ranking chimpanzees will show respect
by submissively gesturing in body language or reaching out their hands
while grunting. Female chimpanzees will show deference to the alpha
male by presenting their hindquarters.
Common chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park
Female chimpanzees also have a hierarchy, which is influenced by the
position of a female individual within a group. In some chimpanzee
communities, the young females may inherit high status from a
high-ranking mother. Dominant females will also ally to dominate
lower-ranking females: whereas males mainly seek dominant status for
its associated mating privileges and sometimes violent domination of
subordinates, females seek dominant status to acquire resources such
as food, as high-ranking females often have first access to them. Both
genders acquire dominant status to improve social standing within a
Community female acceptance is necessary for alpha male status;
females must ensure that their group visits places that supply them
with enough food. A group of dominant females will sometimes oust an
alpha male which is not to their preference and back another male, in
whom they see potential for leading the group as a successful alpha
Diagram of brain – topography of the main groups of foci in the
motor field of chimpanzee
Chimpanzees make tools and use them to acquire foods and for social
displays; they have sophisticated hunting strategies requiring
cooperation, influence and rank; they are status conscious,
manipulative and capable of deception; they can learn to use symbols
and understand aspects of human language including some relational
syntax, concepts of number and numerical sequence; and they are
capable of spontaneous planning for a future state or event.
Common chimpanzee using a stick
In October 1960,
Jane Goodall observed the use of tools among
chimpanzees[dubious – discuss]. Recent research indicates that
chimpanzees' use of stone tools dates back at least 4,300 years (about
2,300 BC). One example of chimpanzee tool usage behavior includes
the use of a large stick as a tool to dig into termite mounds, and the
subsequent use of a small stick altered into a tool that is used to
"fish" the termites out of the mound. Chimpanzees are also known
to use smaller stones as hammers and a large one as an anvil in order
to break open nuts.
In the 1970s, reports of chimpanzees using rocks or sticks as weapons
were anecdotal and controversial. However, a 2007 study claimed to
reveal the use of spears, which common chimpanzees in
with their teeth and use to stab and pry
Senegal bushbabies out of
small holes in trees.
Prior to the discovery of tool use in chimps, humans were believed to
be the only species to make and use tools; however, several other
tool-using species are now known.
Further information: Nest-building in primates
Nest-building, sometimes considered to be a form of tool use, is seen
when chimpanzees construct arboreal night nests by lacing together
branches from one or more trees to build a safe, comfortable place to
sleep; infants learn this process by watching their mothers. The nest
provides a sort of mattress, which is supported by strong branches for
a foundation, and then lined with softer leaves and twigs; the minimum
diameter is 5 metres (16 ft) and may be located at a height of 3
to 45 metres (10 to 150 ft). Both day and night nests are built,
and may be located in groups. A study in 2014 found that the
Muhimbi tree is favoured for nest building by chimpanzees in Uganda
due to its physical properties, such as bending strength, inter-node
distance, and leaf surface area.
Altruism and emotivity
Chimpanzee mother and baby
Studies have shown chimpanzees engage in apparently altruistic
behaviour within groups. Some researchers have suggested that
chimpanzees are indifferent to the welfare of unrelated group
members, but a more recent study of wild chimpanzees found that
both male and female adults would adopt orphaned young of their group.
Also, different groups sometimes share food, form coalitions, and
cooperate in hunting and border patrolling. Sometimes, chimpanzees
have adopted young that come from unrelated groups. And in some rare
cases, even male chimps have been shown to take care of abandoned
infant chimps of an unrelated group, though in most cases they would
kill the infant.
According to a literature summary by James W. Harrod, evidence for
chimpanzee emotivity includes display of mourning; "incipient romantic
love"; rain dances; appreciation of natural beauty (such as a sunset
over a lake); curiosity and respect towards other wildlife (such as
the python, which is neither a threat nor a food source to
chimpanzees); altruism toward other species (such as feeding turtles);
and animism, or "pretend play", when chimps cradle and groom rocks or
Communication between chimpanzees
Chimps communicate in a manner that is similar to that of human
nonverbal communication, using vocalizations, hand gestures, and
facial expressions. There is even some evidence that they can recreate
human speech. Research into the chimpanzee brain has revealed that
when chimpanzees communicate, an area in the brain is activated which
is in the same position as the language center called
Broca's area in
Adult common chimpanzees, particularly males, can be very aggressive.
They are highly territorial and are known to kill other chimps.
Common chimpanzee with hunted bushbuck on a tree in Gombe Stream
Chimpanzees also engage in targeted hunting of lower-order primates,
such as the red colobus and bush babies, and use the meat
from these kills as a "social tool" within their community.[how?]
In February 2013, a study found that chimpanzees solve puzzles for
Chimpanzees in human history
Gregoire: 62-year-old chimpanzee
Chimps, as well as other apes, had also been purported to have been
known to ancient writers, but mainly as myths and legends on the edge
of European and Near Eastern societal consciousness. Apes are
mentioned variously by Aristotle. The English word ape translates
Hebrew qőf in
English translations of the Bible
English translations of the Bible (
1 Kings 10:22), but
the word may refer to a monkey rather than an ape proper.
The diary of Portuguese explorer
Duarte Pacheco Pereira
Duarte Pacheco Pereira (1506),
preserved in the Portuguese National Archive (Torre do Tombo), is
probably the first written document to acknowledge that chimpanzees
built their own rudimentary tools. The first of these early
transcontinental chimpanzees came from Angola and were presented as a
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange in 1640, and were followed
by a few of its brethren over the next several years. Scientists
described these first chimpanzees as "pygmies", and noted the animals'
distinct similarities to humans. The next two decades, a number of the
creatures were imported into Europe, mainly acquired by various
zoological gardens as entertainment for visitors.
Affe mit Schädel
Affe mit Schädel ("
Ape with skull").
Darwin's theory of natural selection (published in 1859) spurred
scientific interest in chimpanzees, as in much of life science,
leading eventually to numerous studies of the animals in the wild and
captivity. The observers of chimpanzees at the time were mainly
interested in behaviour as it related to that of humans. This was less
strictly and disinterestedly scientific than it might sound, with much
attention being focused on whether or not the animals had traits that
could be considered 'good'; the intelligence of chimpanzees was often
significantly exaggerated, as immortalized in Hugo Rheinhold's Affe
mit Schädel (see image, left). By the end of the 19th century,
chimpanzees remained very much a mystery to humans, with very little
factual scientific information available.
In the 20th century, a new age of scientific research into chimpanzee
behaviour began. Before 1960, almost nothing was known about
chimpanzee behaviour in their natural habitats. In July of that year,
Jane Goodall set out to Tanzania's Gombe forest to live among the
chimpanzees, where she primarily studied the members of the Kasakela
chimpanzee community. Her discovery that chimpanzees made and used
tools was groundbreaking, as humans were previously believed to be the
only species to do so. The most progressive early studies on
chimpanzees were spearheaded primarily by
Wolfgang Köhler and Robert
Yerkes, both of whom were renowned psychologists. Both men and their
colleagues established laboratory studies of chimpanzees focused
specifically on learning about the intellectual abilities of
chimpanzees, particularly problem-solving. This typically involved
basic, practical tests on laboratory chimpanzees, which required a
fairly high intellectual capacity (such as how to solve the problem of
acquiring an out-of-reach banana). Notably, Yerkes also made extensive
observations of chimpanzees in the wild which added tremendously to
the scientific understanding of chimpanzees and their behaviour.
Yerkes studied chimpanzees until World War II, while Köhler concluded
five years of study and published his famous Mentality of Apes in 1925
(which is coincidentally when Yerkes began his analyses), eventually
concluding, "chimpanzees manifest intelligent behaviour of the general
kind familiar in human beings ... a type of behaviour which counts as
specifically human" (1925).
Chimpanzee at the Los Angeles Zoo
The August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Primatology reported
results of a year-long study of chimpanzees in Tanzania's Mahale
Mountains National Park, which produced evidence of chimpanzees
becoming sick from viral infectious diseases they had likely
contracted from humans. Molecular, microscopic and epidemiological
investigations demonstrated the chimpanzees living at Mahale Mountains
National Park have been suffering from a respiratory disease that is
likely caused by a variant of a human paramyxovirus.
Research and study of chimpanzees
Animal testing on non-human primates § Chimpanzees in
As of November 2007, about 1,300 chimpanzees were housed in 10 U.S.
laboratories (out of 3,000 great apes living in captivity there),
either wild-caught, or acquired from circuses, animal trainers, or
zoos. Most of the labs either conduct or make the chimps available
for invasive research, defined as "inoculation with an infectious
agent, surgery or biopsy conducted for the sake of research and not
for the sake of the chimpanzee, and/or drug testing". Two
federally funded laboratories use chimps: the Yerkes National Primate
Research Center at
Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and the
Primate Center in San Antonio, Texas. Five
hundred chimps have been retired from laboratory use in the U.S. and
live in animal sanctuaries in the U.S. or Canada.
Ham the Astrochimp before being inserted into the Mercury-Redstone 2
capsule in 1961
Chimpanzees used in biomedical research tend to be used repeatedly
over decades, rather than used and killed as with most laboratory
animals. Some individual chimps currently in U.S. laboratories have
been used in experiments for over 40 years. According to Project
R&R, a campaign to release chimps held in U.S. labs—run by the
New England Anti-Vivisection Society in conjunction with Jane Goodall
and other primate researchers—the oldest known chimp in a U.S. lab
is Wenka, which was born in a laboratory in Florida on May 21,
1954. She was removed from her mother on the day of birth to be
used in a vision experiment that lasted 17 months, then sold as a pet
to a family in North Carolina. She was returned to the Yerkes National
Primate Research Center in 1957 when she became too big to handle.
Since then, she has given birth six times, and has been the subject of
research into alcohol use, oral contraceptives, aging, and cognitive
With the publication of the chimpanzee genome, plans to increase the
use of chimps in labs are reportedly increasing, with some scientists
arguing that the federal moratorium on breeding chimps for research
should be lifted. A five-year moratorium was imposed by the
U.S. National Institutes of Health in 1996, because too many chimps
had been bred for HIV research, and it has been extended annually
Other researchers argue that chimps are unique animals and either
should not be used in research, or should be treated differently.
Pascal Gagneux, an evolutionary biologist and primate expert at the
University of California, San Diego, argues, given chimpanzees' sense
of self, tool use, and genetic similarity to human beings, studies
using chimps should follow the ethical guidelines used for human
subjects unable to give consent. Also, a recent study suggests
chimpanzees which are retired from labs exhibit a form of
posttraumatic stress disorder. Stuart Zola, director of the Yerkes
Primate Research Laboratory, disagrees. He told National
Geographic: "I don't think we should make a distinction between our
obligation to treat humanely any species, whether it's a rat or a
monkey or a chimpanzee. No matter how much we may wish it, chimps are
An increasing number of governments are enacting a great ape research
ban forbidding the use of chimpanzees and other great apes in research
or toxicology testing. As of 2006, Austria, New Zealand, the
Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK had introduced such bans.
Studies of language
Great ape language
Side profile of a chimpanzee
Scientists have long been fascinated with the studies of language,
believing it to be a unique human cognitive ability. To test this
hypothesis, scientists have attempted to teach human language to
several species of great apes. One early attempt by Allen and Beatrix
Gardner in the 1960s involved spending 51 months teaching American
Sign Language (ASL) to a chimpanzee named Washoe. The Gardners
reported Washoe learned 151 signs, and she had spontaneously taught
them to other chimpanzees. Over a longer period of time, Washoe
learned over 800 signs.
Debate is ongoing among some scientists (such as David Premack), about
non-human great apes' ability to learn language. Since the early
reports on Washoe, numerous other studies have been conducted, with
varying levels of success, including one involving a chimpanzee
named jokingly Nim Chimpsky, trained by Herbert Terrace of Columbia
University. Although his initial reports were quite positive, in
November 1979, Terrace and his team, including psycholinguist Thomas
Bever, re-evaluated the videotapes of Nim with his trainers, analyzing
them frame by frame for signs, as well as for exact context (what was
happening both before and after Nim's signs). In the reanalysis,
Terrace and Bever concluded Nim's utterances could be explained merely
as prompting on the part of the experimenters, as well as mistakes in
reporting the data. "Much of the apes' behaviour is pure drill," he
said. "Language still stands as an important definition of the human
species." In this reversal, Terrace now argued Nim's use of ASL was
not like human language acquisition. Nim never initiated conversations
himself, rarely introduced new words, and simply imitated what the
humans did. More importantly, Nim's word strings varied in their
ordering, suggesting that he was incapable of syntax. Nim's sentences
also did not grow in length, unlike human children whose vocabulary
and sentence length show a strong positive correlation.
A 30-year study at Kyoto University's
Primate Research Institute has
shown that chimps are able to learn to recognise the numbers 1 through
9 and their values. The chimps further show an aptitude for
photographic memory, demonstrated in experiments in which the jumbled
digits are flashed onto a computer screen for less than a quarter of a
second. One chimp, Ayumu, was able to correctly and quickly point to
the positions where they appeared in ascending order. The same
experiment was failed by human world memory champion
Ben Pridmore on
In controlled cooperative experiments researchers have found that
chimpanzees have a basic understanding of cooperation. Chimpanzees
recruit the best collaborators. In a group setting with a device
that delivered food rewards only to cooperating chimpanzees,
cooperation first increased, then, due to competitive behaviour,
decreased, before finally increasing to the highest level through
punishment and other arbitrage behaviour.
Laughter in apes
Laughter in animals
Young chimpanzees playing
Laughter might not be confined or unique to humans. The differences
between chimpanzee and human laughter may be the result of adaptations
that have evolved to enable human speech. Self-awareness of one's
situation as seen in the mirror test, or the ability to identify with
another's predicament (see mirror neurons), are prerequisites for
laughter, so animals may be laughing for the same
reasons that humans do.
Chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans show laughter-like vocalizations
in response to physical contact, such as wrestling, play-chasing, or
tickling. This is documented in wild and captive chimpanzees. Common
chimpanzee laughter is not readily recognisable to humans as such,
because it is generated by alternating inhalations and exhalations
that sound more like breathing and panting. Instances in which
nonhuman primates have expressed joy have been reported. One study
analyzed and recorded sounds made by human babies and bonobos when
tickled. Although the bonobo's laugh was a higher frequency, the laugh
followed a pattern similar to that of human babies and included
similar facial expressions.
Humans and chimpanzees share similar
ticklish areas of the body, such as the armpits and belly. The
enjoyment of tickling in chimpanzees does not diminish with age.
Chimps listed as endangered in the US
Animal testing on non-human primates § Chimpanzees in
The US Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a rule on June 12, 2015,
creating very strict regulations, practically barring any activity
with chimpanzees other than for scientific, preservation-oriented
Chimpanzees as pets
See also: Exotic pet
Chimpanzees have traditionally been kept as pets in a few African
villages, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Virunga
National Park in the east of the country, the park authorities
regularly confiscate chimpanzees from people keeping them as pets.
Chimpanzees are popular as wild pets in many areas despite their
strength, aggression, and wild nature. Even in areas where keeping
non-human primates as pets is illegal, the exotic pet trade continues
to prosper and some people keep chimpanzees as pets mistakenly
believing that they will bond with them for life. As they grow, so do
their strength and aggression; some owners and others interacting with
the animals have lost fingers and suffered severe facial damage among
other injuries sustained in attacks. In addition to the animals'
hostile potential and strength well beyond any human being,
chimpanzees physically mature a lot more proportionally than do human
beings, and even among the most cleanly and well-organized of
housekeepers, maintaining cleanliness and control of chimpanzees is
physically demanding to the point that it is impossible for humans to
control, especially due to the animals' strength and aggression.
Chimpanzees in popular culture
See also: List of fictional primates
Chimpanzees have been commonly stereotyped in popular culture, where
they are most often cast in standardized roles as childlike
companions, sidekicks or clowns. They are especially suited for
the latter role on account of their prominent facial features, long
limbs and fast movements, which humans often find amusing.
Accordingly, entertainment acts featuring chimpanzees dressed up as
humans have been traditional staples of circuses and stage shows.
In the age of television, a new genre of chimp act emerged in the
United States: series whose cast consisted entirely of chimpanzees
dressed as humans and "speaking" lines dubbed by human actors.
These shows, examples of which include
Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp in
the 1970s or
The Chimp Channel in the 1990s, relied on the novelty of
their ape cast to make their timeworn, low comedy gags funny.
Their chimpanzee "actors" were as interchangeable as the apes in a
circus act, being amusing as chimpanzees and not as individuals.
Animal rights groups have urged a stop to this practice, considering
it animal abuse.
When chimpanzees appear in other TV shows, they generally do so as
comic relief sidekicks to humans. In that role, for instance, J. Fred
Muggs appeared with Today Show host
Dave Garroway in the 1950s, Judy
Daktari in the 1960s and Darwin on
The Wild Thornberrys
The Wild Thornberrys in the
1990s. In contrast to the fictional depictions of other animals,
such as dogs (as in Lassie), dolphins (Flipper), horses (The Black
Stallion) or even other great apes (King Kong), chimpanzee characters
and actions are rarely relevant to the plot.
Chimpanzees in science fiction
The rare depictions of chimpanzees as individuals rather than stock
characters, and as central rather than incidental to the plot are
generally found in works of science fiction. Robert A. Heinlein's
short story "Jerry Was a Man" (1947) centers on a genetically enhanced
chimpanzee suing for better treatment. The 1972 film Conquest of the
Planet of the Apes, the third sequel of Planet of the Apes, portrays a
futuristic revolt of enslaved apes led by the only talking chimpanzee,
Caesar, against their human masters.
Chimpanzee genome project
Great ape personhood
List of apes
Prostitution among animals#Chimpanzees
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Wikiquote has quotations related to: Chimpanzee
Wikispecies has information related to Chimpanzee
Media related to Pan at Wikimedia Commons
Ingersoll, Ernest (1920). "Chimpanzee". Encyclopedia
Lydekker, Richard (1911). "Chimpanzee". Encyclopædia Britannica
Stanford, Craig B. The Predatory Behavior and Ecology of Wild
Chimpanzees university of Southern California. 2002(?)
View the panTro4 genome assembly in the UCSC Genome Browser.
Human Timeline (Interactive) – Smithsonian, National Museum of
Natural History (August 2016).
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