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Women and chimps

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Muhammad B. Aldalou

Scientists reported through their recent studies in Uganda that in the same manner that little girls may cradle their toys and dolls, female chimps carry around sticks to express their "care-taker" nature as a form of mothering.

Although these female chimps do utilize their proudly owned sticks for other activities, such as forms of weapons or self defense and finding water or food in holes, they always revert back to cradling the sticks, in a baby-like fashion.

The findings of the research, which were published in the Journal of Current Biology reveal that gender roles might be more biologically rooted than some people might have thought.

The lead author of this journal, Sonya Kahlenberg, looked at incidences of stick-carrying in a chimp community in Uganda for over 14 years. After close examination of various cases, she noticed a distinct gender difference; out of the young females, 67 percent carried sticks, as opposed to just 31 percent of males.

It was also revealed that the stick-carrying demonstrates a more feminine approach to care taking. Subsequently the males who did carry sticks stopped doing so, as they grew older and more masculine, but the females would only cease when they gave birth.

Kahlenberg is eagerly waiting to see which toys her 9-month-old daughter chooses to pick up or adopt. "Right now it's just blocks. It's too early to say," Kahlenberg said.

Interesting observations concluded in these studies showing that some of the young chimps even played the "airplane" game: lying on their backs and lifting the stick in the air, much as human parents entertain their youngsters.

As similarities pile up between Chimpanzees and human beings, especially when it comes to gender distinction and preferences, it has also been tested among male and female chimps that they possess the same gender oriented preferences as boys and girls do.

When presented with dolls and trucks, subsequently the female chimps chose the dolls while the males chose the trucks. [Via]

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posted by Doll at 4:09 PM

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