Hunting roles in chimpanzees? Cognitive aspects of group activity in this species

Anna Albiach-Serrano


Observations of chimpanzees in their natural habitat show that as well as competing, these primates often cooperate by forming coalitions, patrolling the boundaries of their territories, and hunting in groups. Perhaps because of the important role it is thought to have played in the evolution of our own species, group hunting behaviours have attracted considerable research interest. The underlying question is to what extent do chimpanzees hunt cooperatively in a human-like manner? To answer this question, we must consider not only their behaviour, but also the cognitive abilities required, given that any two similar behaviours may respond to different psychological mechanisms. Research on the cognitive aspect of cooperation has been carried out mainly through experiments with chimpanzees in captivity. The available evidence suggests that, with experience, chimpanzees are capable of coordination between individuals, but it is unclear whether they can also cooperate, i.e., act according to a common strategy.


cooperation; hunting; cognition; animal behaviour; 'Pan troglodytes'

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