Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Weird-ass Wednesday #3

Okay people, this is weird. I've been trying to follow this story, and finally I found a pic for ya.

For years, people of the Congo have talked about a species of giant chimpanzees living in the jungles that preys on large game, such as leopard. Supposedly, they have other unusual behaviors, like howling at the moon.

Because of the habitual fighting that goes on in the Congo, most scientists were unable to investigate these claims. But finally, one group did get in, and they found the giant chimps. They studied them for 18 months. This is supposed to be a picture of one that is deceased.

I haven't found an article yet verifying whether the species howls at the moon or not, but the scientists do say that the group may need to be classified as a new sub-species of chimpanzee (apparently, there are already four sub-species, so this would be a fifth.)

There is even speculation that this may not be a sub-species of chimpanzee at all, but rather a hybrid of chimpanzee and gorilla.

Their behavior differs from other chimps in that they build their sleeping nests on the ground, instead of in trees. This is probably because they are not as vulnerable to predators such as lions. It's been confirmed that the chimps do kill and eat lions, so evidently the big cats know to stay away. The chimps don't seem to perceive humans as either prey or threat.

They use tools, like other chimpanzees do, such as stripping a long branch of its leaves, then inserting the stick into a mound of termites and pulling the stick back out to lick off termites crawling on it. They've also been observed just picking up a huge chunk of the mound, taking it to a rock, and smashing it open!

Here are some links if you're interested in reading further.

Found: the giant lion-eating chimps of the magic forest

Elusive African Apes: Giant Chimps or New Species?

Chimps Belong on Human Branch of Family Tree, Study Says