For a long time, primatologists thought chimpanzees were the nicer, gentler version of humankind. In reality, chimpanzees are violent, brutal and dangerous - much like humans. With more than 98 percent of our DNA matching, humans see many of our own societal traits and features reflected back through this sister species. Like humans, these extremely intelligent animals exhibit brutal character traits and behavior that are similar to humans.
There are many similarities between humans and chimpanzees, and some of the human things chimpanzees do are brutal. Scientists look to these creatures to try to decipher some of the roots of human behavior, like warfare and religion. Chimps engage in long, protracted, bloody wars, they kill and consume infants, and they send out raiding parties in order to protect and maintain their territories. This list examines in detail some of the worst things chimpanzee do, from their propensity for baby slaughter to their likelihood of attacking humans when in captivity.
In 2017, a group of chimps in Senegal organized a hit on their much-maligned alpha male, Foudouko. A tyrannical leader, Foudouko had been ostracized by his group after he maintained contact with his right-man chimp, Mamadou, despite Mamadou's drop in social standing. When it came time to take Foudouko out, both males and females from the group aggressively beat him – throwing rocks at him, beating him with sticks, and jumping on him for a long time after his pulse ceased. Then, after he was dead, some began cannibalizing his body, which is both incredibly gruesome and fairly uncommon in the realm of chimpanzee hits.
Male chimpanzees are incredibly violent toward females – kicking them, biting them, slapping them, and pulling out their hair – in order to demonstrate their own sexual fitness and virility. Because of this, male chimps who asserted sexual aggression usually were the ones to successfully reproduce, meaning that aggressiveness was passed on to future generations. Researchers are studying whether there's any link between this phenomenon in chimps to sexual aggression in men.
To ensure their DNA is passed on to future generations, male chimps will kill babies sired by other males. To combat this, female chimps are known to mate with several chimps at once to purposely conceal the paternity of her child.
A 2007 study published in ScienceDaily found that female chimpanzees also partake in chilling baby murders, cannibalizing the infants after they kill them. The scientists found that “resident” females would organize murder parties, attacking and killing the young of females who were new, or “strangers,” to the group. The scientists involved in the research reported hearing the shrill screams and wails of the “strange” females in the night as their young were killed and eaten before them. Although they don’t yet have definitive evidence, scientists believe that these female-coordinated attacks might be the result of changing sex ratios within the group, which increases mating, resource, and reproduction competition.
This one’s really creepy. According to an article published in Scientific American, we have a lot more to fear from chimps in captivity than we do from those in the wild. In the wild, chimpanzees are frightened of humans. They don’t know what humans are about or how strong we are, so they keep their distance. However, chimps that have been raised by or lived among humans have the cognitive ability to notice tension between themselves and a certain person, as well as the difference between their strength and human strength. (It’s a MASSIVE difference, by the way). Chimps are kept behind bars to protect humans, and even from behind bars chimps will attack, biting off many a human finger in the process.