4 Ways Chimpanzees Are Basically Superheroes
Written By: Anna Muir, JGI Canada Volunteer
Category: Great Apes
Very few animals fascinate and inform us quite like chimpanzees.
Sharing nearly 99% of our DNA, these thoughtful and intelligent primates have had an incredible impact on our planet—they’ve taught us about the evolution of our own species while helping maintain the health and vitality of the natural world.
Here are four ways chimpanzees are important for the well-being of the planet.
- The Power of Poop
Chimpanzees really love fruit and will consume as much as 100 kilograms a month. Not surprisingly, chimp poop is full of fruit seeds, which is liberally dispersed throughout the forest. The relationship between certain plant species and chimp poop is so symbiotic, the plants can only reproduce if the seeds have passed through a chimp’s gut – Now that’s food for thought!
2. It’s All About Us
Chimpanzees have helped us make important discoveries about the origins of human behaviour. For instance, we share many of the same natural drives and instincts as chimpanzees. Like humans, chimpanzees demonstrate a need for power and form hierarchies that include alpha males and females. Their behaviour also reveals acts of empathy and trust. Both chimps and humans regulate the behaviour of group members by punishing bad behaviour and rewarding the good, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of the benefits of stable and peaceful social interaction.
3. Chimps fight the spread of disease
Between 2014 and 2015, Ebola claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people. Less well known is that, over the past two-and-a-half decades, the disease has also wiped out a third of the world’s chimpanzee and gorilla populations. Some great apes have been vaccinated against Ebola and scientists believe this has been effective in fighting off the disease. Monitoring the primates will tell researchers if and how the disease can be contained or stopped altogether. Ultimately, scientists hope to produce a vaccine that will protect both apes and humans from this killer.
4. Chimpanzees vs global warming
Maintaining biodiversity and ecosystems is essential to mitigating the impact of climate change. The harmonious coexistence of different animal species can help lock carbon in soil where it belongs, rather than being released into the atmosphere. Chimpanzees are a critical part of the web of life!
As one of the only other species on the planet that help us learn why we are the way we are, combat deadly disease and fight climate change, chimps are true superheroes.