Novelist Margaret Atwood said that "war is what happens when language fails," but sometimes, talking things over isn't an option. Such was the case for the combatants in a little-known war that took place in the early 1970s in Tanzania. The reason you probably haven't heard of it is because it was waged by chimpanzees. The conflict began in Gombe Stream National Park in 1971, when a group of chimpanzees that had always lived together suddenly split into two factions. According to researcher Joseph Feldblum of Duke University, the likely cause of the rift was the death of a senior male called Leakey. He was seen as a pacifying link between the chimps in the northern part of the park and those in the south. With his death, there was no clear leader, and infighting quickly escalated into bloodshed and separation. For the next four years, the two sides battled for control, at times displaying the kind of violence rarely seen outside of human warfare. Researchers who studied the Gombe Chimpanzee War said it occurred in ways very similar to human conflict, and could provide insight into ways to avoid such aggression in the future.
A close look at chimpanzees:
- Humans and chimpanzees are thought share nearly 99% of their DNA.
- A 2018 study found that chimpanzee resting areas are cleaner than human beds, containing less skin and bacteria.
- The median life expectancy for chimps in captivity is 38.7 years for females and 31.7 years for males.