Newly discovered stone tool-use behavior and accumulation sites in wild chimpanzees reminiscent to human cairns
After discovering conspicuous piles of stones next to trees at four research sites in West Africa, the field teams placed camera traps next to them.
In Guinea Bissau some impressive videos were recorded which confirmed the researchers’ suspicion that chimpanzees were responsible for these stone piles and were regularly visiting these trees. “The PanAf cameras filmed individual chimpanzees picking up stones from beside, or inside trees, and then throwing them at these trees while emitting a long-distance pant hoot vocalization.”
After reading the above my first thought was what that might mean in a ritual or, dare I say it, ‘religious’ context. But I am wary of anything that anthropomorphizes animal behavior and left it out of my reporting.
But it is a legitimate question. Is attaching a value or a meaning to a particular place or object and then passing that down through multiple generations anything else?
We cannot know what the chimpanzees are thinking or why they imitate the others in their troop who preceded them. But it seems that it would be a logical place in both space and time for what would eventually be called ‘worship.’
These scientists and reporters are not as hesitant to discuss that possibility: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2079630-what-do-chimp-temples-tell-us-about-the-evolution-of-religion/See this stone? I’m going to make a really loud noise with it.
Original report and source: Why do chimpanzees throw stones at trees? | Max Planck Society