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Chimpanzees Observed Fishing for Freshwater Crabs

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Guinea chimpanzees fishingZURICH, SWITZERLAND—The Asahi Shimbun reports that an international team of researchers has spotted chimpanzees in the rainforests of Guinea in West Africa catching and eating freshwater crabs. Kathelijne Koops of the University of Zurich said the chimps were observed turning over stones and churning up the water with their fingers to look for crabs. The research also suggests the chimps fished for crabs during the dry and rainy seasons, regardless of whether ripe fruit was available. The chimps did appear to fish more often when they were eating fewer ants, however, and female chimps with young were found to spend more time fishing than males. Koops suggests the sodium, calcium, and fatty acids in the shellfish may be critical to infant and maternal health. Early humans may have fished in forest streams as well, she explained. It had been previously thought that human ancestors only began to eat aquatic animals some two million years ago, when they moved out of forests and closer to lakes, rivers, or coastlines. To read about an evolutionary difference between great apes and hominins, go to “No Changeups on the Savannah.”

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