Chimps plan for a good early breakfast

Chimpanzees plan ahead, and sometimes take dangerous risks, to get a good breakfast, scientists say.

Chimps plan for a good early breakfast

Washington: Chimpanzees plan ahead, and sometimes take dangerous risks, to get a good breakfast, scientists say.

Researchers found that chimpanzees will find a place to sleep en route to breakfast sites and risk travel in the dark when predators are active to obtain more desired, less abundant fruits such as figs.

"As humans we are familiar with the race against birds for our cherries, or against squirrels for our walnuts and pecans but this race is carried out amongst competitors of all kinds of species in locations all over the world," said study co-author Leo Polansky, an associate researcher in the University of California, Davis.

The study provides evidence that chimpanzees flexibly plan their breakfast time, type and location after weighing multiple disparate pieces of information.

"Being able to reveal the role of environmental complexity in shaping cognitive-based behaviour is especially exciting," Polansky said.

"Long-term, detailed information from the field can reveal the value of high levels of cognition and behavioural flexibility for efficiently obtaining critical food resources in complex environments," he said.

Researchers recorded when and where five adult female chimpanzees spent the night and acquired food for 275 days during three fruit-scarce periods.

The research took place in the Tai National Park in Cote d'Ivoire, led by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where Polansky was a postdoctoral researcher.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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