Innovative social behavior in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)


  • C. Casanova,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    2. Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland
    • ISCSP, Pólo Universitário do Alto da Ajuda, Rua Almerindo Lessa, 1349-055 Lisboa, Portugal
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  • R. Mondragon-Ceballos,

    1. CBA (Centro de Biologia Ambiental Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de lisboa, Lisboa Portugal), CAPP (Centro de Administração e Políticas Públicas ISCSP Polo Universitário do Alto da Ajuda, Lisboa, Portugal) and APP (Portuguese Primatological Association)
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  • P.C. Lee

    1. Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz, Mexico City, Mexico
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We present evidence of agonistic buffering in captive chimpanzees, recorded from 1993 until 2005, mainly from ad libitum sampling in over 2000 hr of observation. A total of 33 agonistic buffering episodes were analyzed for context and effects of this complex social behavior. Agonistic buffering was directed at the whole chimpanzee colony as they supported an individual who initially received aggression from the alpha male, independently of the victim's age, sex or social rank. Chimpanzee agonistic buffering behavior is compared with that in other nonhuman primate species, and we describe some particularities of chimpanzee agonistic buffering: the status of the buffers used—socially important offspring such as those from the alpha female—and the social rank of the adult male responsible for the buffering episode—alpha male. Possible functions for this behavior in chimpanzees are suggested as appeasement of group members in a particularly crowded captive setting, and/or as a “forced reconciliation” mechanism. Chimpanzees exhibit behavioral flexibility by adapting themselves to new social and physical situations and use novel behavior to achieve social benefits. Am. J. Primatol. 70:54–61, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.