Fongoli Chimpanzees With Spears

November 12, 2018
Fongoli monkeys hunt galagos and other small mammals with their spears. They even sharpen the spears themselves, which is a unique behavior among their species

Primates belong to one of the few orders of species that use this tool; however, the Fongoli Chimpanzees that use spears are a special case. This chimpanzee culture is very different from the rest of chimps and they’re mysteriously similar to human beings.

Culture in animals is a real thing: primates, cetaceans and some birds have behaviors that are transferred to future generations. These behaviors make them totally different from other members of the same species.

Fongoli chimpanzees with spears

These chimpanzees from Fongoli are very special primates because they use spears to hunt animals. This is really amazing because this behavior was previously seen in humans. This sort of behavior is something that’s not seen in other chimpanzees.

Fongoli is a warm region of Senegal, a savannah that is far away from the impenetrable forests of the Congo, and it’s the home of some amazing chimpanzees. Maybe this is why this species has adapted to an ecosystem very similar to that of the first humans, which is the outcome of this cultural change.  

These chimpanzees surprised the world when it was discovered that they use sharp weapons to hunt. They use Fongoli spears that they sharpen themselves to hunt galagos and other small mammals. 

Fongoli chimpanzees use spears to hunt

Other differences of Fongoli spear chimpanzees

The fact that they use spears isn’t the only cultural mechanism that makes them different from other chimpanzees. Their society is also more tolerant and has greater gender equality when it comes to hunting. This society of chimpanzee also uses less brute force, and bulky males aren’t always the ones in charge.

However, there are stories of brutality and murder in Fongoli. For example, the story of Foudouko.

He was an alpha male and a tyrant that ruled one of the communities of Fongoli for two years. After being overthrown for his tyranny, and after one of his allies was brutally beaten, Foudouko was exiled for five years.

On the fifth year, he tried to interact with other members of the group and join in on their activities. However, they brutally murdered him that night and a female practiced cannibalism on him, something that isn’t normally seen among great apes.

What changes took place for the Fongoli Chimpanzee to use spears?

Using a spear as a hunting technique makes these animals the only non-human population to use spears.

However, there are other animals that use other types of tools. As mentioned before, in the Fongoli society there’s gender equality and females are the protagonists of half of the hunts. This is something that doesn’t happen with other groups of chimpanzees.

This is probably because chimpanzees with spears are more independent in hunting than those that only use brute force. An example is the chimpanzee of Gombe, studied by Jane Goodall: males hunt 90% of the prey, compared to 70% in Fongoli.

Old Fongoli Chimpanzee

In Fongoli, they don’t often rob food from one another, even the females and low-ranking males. But this is quite common in other chimpanzee societies. This, along with the use of spears, seems to have awakened a highly developed hunting habit in Fongoli females.

Chimpanzees with spears and the human species

The savannah of Senegal is a habitat that is really similar to the land that the first humans lived on. Amazing enough, Fongoli spear chimpanzees remind us of our wild past.

They don’t just use the spear. Fongoli chimpanzees barely spend time in tree branches, instead, they use the ground a lot more. This behavior is also compatible with the story of human evolution.

In order to understand these chimpanzees hunting techniques, you won’t be able to their about it by watching movies.

These monkeys use sharpened sticks to force their way into the galagos’ homes. Their intention is to skewer them and kill them with one bite.

Chimpanzees with spears, the first troglodytes

Fongoli chimpanzees don’t just have this in common with human beings. The temperatures and dryness of Senegal have forced them to seek refuge in a place that no other chimpanzee ever went: caves. The temperature and humidity are much more favorable.

Other chimpanzee species don’t do this. It shows how impressive the culture of this animal really is. The use of spears can cause two members of the same species to have very different behaviors, similar to what happens with humans.