In the scorching heat, amongst a sea of grassland and shrubs, a troop of chimpanzees found in Senegal are behaving in ways unlike any other chimps in Africa. They are evolving new techniques to survive, techniques that were once thought only to be performed by humans.
While most chimps live high in the jungle canopies, these chimps are adapting to a very different habitat, and as a result, they are learning new ways to survive in their harsh environment. Many of these techniques resemble those that our earliest ancestors may have practiced.
Video: “Termite Fishing”
The Fongoli chimps, as they are called, are taking tool use to the next level, a level that was previously thought to be reserved for humans. They spend most of their time on the ground rather than high in the canopies. They take dips in pools of water when it had previously been thought that chimps were hydrophobic. And, most exceptionally, they take refuge from the extreme temperatures in caves. All of these eerily human habits may offer a glimpse into how our early hominid ancestors made their first steps toward becoming what we are today.