Chimps destroy documentary drone with twig tools

Sep 8, 2015

Reed University

By Gretchen Vogel

Move over, King Kong. A chimpanzee named Tushi is putting up some regal resistance at the Royal Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem, the Netherlands. That’s where she knocked a filmmaker’s drone clear out of the sky in April using a 1.8-meter-long stick. Researchers report online today in the journal Primates that this is strong evidence of planned, deliberate tool use among chimps, adding to evidence that these primates can think ahead and be creative in their toolmaking.


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20 comments on “Chimps destroy documentary drone with twig tools

  • @OP – adding to evidence that these primates can think ahead and be creative in their toolmaking.

    There have been various filmed examples of chimps using tools. – Sticks to collect ants, stones to crack nuts, objects thrown at predators from trees.



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  • There are many videos available that show male chimps in dominance display where they grab sticks and branches and swing them and hurl them menacingly. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch for them to swing one at a drone. The funniest story I heard on this topic is by Jane Goodall when she describes a young belligerent male who found a collection of large jerry cans behind a hut and came shrieking out of the bushes banging and clanging them for full effect. The other chimps in the troop were frightened and ran for their lives. Best dominance display ever!



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  • The drone was directed towards Tushi and another female, who were 5 meters off the ground (scaffolding).

    Both went after it, but Tushi got that sucker. You go girls!



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  • “Speak softly but carry a big stick” Theodore Roosevelt.
    “Scorned woman with stick in hand going to leave man with stick in eye.” Confucius

    I’m fond of the well known picture of an Orangutan up a tree and hanging over a river fishing with a long stick or thin tree branch.

    I think we’re mystified at the chimp’s use of a branch to swat down a drone not because the stick tool represents new chimp technology, but because the drone represents new human technology. Our cousins are amazing!



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  • Melvin
    Sep 9, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    I think we’re mystified at the chimp’s use of a branch to swat down a drone not because the stick tool represents new chimp technology, but because the drone represents new human technology. Our cousins are amazing!

    I would not be surprised if wild chimps are found to swat down birds to eat!



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  • I would not be surprised if wild chimps are found to swat down birds to eat!

    Given the laws of probability, I’m virtually certain chimps have made a few lucky swipes that have brought down airborne prey. Chimps, however, do not stalk birds. Individuals or flocks would have to fly inadvertently into close quarters with the stick-wielding chimps and even in such cases still enjoy a tremendous reflexive- evasive advantage. Obviously the camera drone hovered almost statically, literally in the chimp’s face. In hindsight, I’m sure the cameraman was chagrined for not realizing that his buzzing little toy would become easy meat for an an irritated chimp striking back at point blank range. Time to rethink drone camera angles.



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