Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Monkey Blogging: Chimps Use Geometry to Navigate The Jungle

As I mentioned a few months ago, I started a regularly recurring blog entry meme every Friday afternoon, inspired by Bruce Schneier's regular series of "Friday Squid Blogging" posts, and my very own maddening Monkey Theory.

Here is this week's installment.

Ewen Callaway writes on

If you're ever lost in the jungle, follow a chimpanzee. New research suggests the great apes keep a geometric mental map of their home range, moving from point to point in nearly straight lines.

"The kind of striking thing when you are with the chimpanzees in the forest is that we use a compass or GPS, but obviously these guys know where they are going," says Christophe Boesch, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.

With the aid of GPS, he and colleague Emmanuelle Normand shadowed the movements of 15 chimpanzees in Côte d'Ivoire's Taï National Park for a total of 217 days.

In a given day, a single animal might visit 15 of the roughly 12,000 trees in its 17-square-kilometre range, Boesch says. "They are kind of nomads."

More here.

Image source: NewScientist / Frans Lanting / National Geographic / Getty


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