Meat Eating by Wild Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii): Effects of Prey Age on Carcass Consumption Sequence

Ian Gilby, Daniel Wawrzyniak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite the fact that many primates consume vertebrate prey, surprisingly little is known about the nutritional benefits of eating meat for members of this diverse order. Although chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) primarily eat plant source foods, especially fruit, they consume vertebrate prey with excitement, attesting to its nutritional value. Meat is a concentrated source of macro- and micronutrients; however, a carcass is not a uniform package. For example, the mammalian brain has considerably higher fat content than lean muscle tissue. The brain both has great caloric value and contains high concentrations of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are critical for normal brain function. It thus represents a large, nutrient-dense source of energy and essential nutrients that should be highly valued. We filmed consumption of 29 arboreal monkeys by chimpanzees at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, and recorded the order in which general regions of the body were consumed. Overall, the head was significantly more likely to be targeted first than either the torso (including viscera) or appendages. This result was driven by subadult prey, 91% of which were eaten head-first, probably because their skulls were relatively easy for chimpanzees to break with a single bite. Possessors of adult prey (with robust skulls) often first selected the viscera, probably to harvest the fat-rich liver, thus maximizing immediate return in the face of the threat of harassment or theft. This has important implications for our understanding of the nutritional benefits of meat eating among primates, and highlights the need for future studies that measure the nutritional content of specific tissues and examine which are preferentially consumed or shared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Feb 9 2018

Fingerprint

Pan troglodytes
meat
brain
ingestion
skull
primate
fat
animal organs
vertebrate
Primates
nutrient
vertebrates
torso
long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
body regions
nutrients
muscle
national park
fatty acid
fruit

Keywords

  • Diet
  • Meat eating
  • Meat-scrap hypothesis
  • Pan troglodytes
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Predation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

@article{e87a4b7c0ae74d2b8c09236e8dde7b17,
title = "Meat Eating by Wild Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii): Effects of Prey Age on Carcass Consumption Sequence",
abstract = "Despite the fact that many primates consume vertebrate prey, surprisingly little is known about the nutritional benefits of eating meat for members of this diverse order. Although chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) primarily eat plant source foods, especially fruit, they consume vertebrate prey with excitement, attesting to its nutritional value. Meat is a concentrated source of macro- and micronutrients; however, a carcass is not a uniform package. For example, the mammalian brain has considerably higher fat content than lean muscle tissue. The brain both has great caloric value and contains high concentrations of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are critical for normal brain function. It thus represents a large, nutrient-dense source of energy and essential nutrients that should be highly valued. We filmed consumption of 29 arboreal monkeys by chimpanzees at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, and recorded the order in which general regions of the body were consumed. Overall, the head was significantly more likely to be targeted first than either the torso (including viscera) or appendages. This result was driven by subadult prey, 91{\%} of which were eaten head-first, probably because their skulls were relatively easy for chimpanzees to break with a single bite. Possessors of adult prey (with robust skulls) often first selected the viscera, probably to harvest the fat-rich liver, thus maximizing immediate return in the face of the threat of harassment or theft. This has important implications for our understanding of the nutritional benefits of meat eating among primates, and highlights the need for future studies that measure the nutritional content of specific tissues and examine which are preferentially consumed or shared.",
keywords = "Diet, Meat eating, Meat-scrap hypothesis, Pan troglodytes, Polyunsaturated fatty acids, Predation",
author = "Ian Gilby and Daniel Wawrzyniak",
year = "2018",
month = "2",
day = "9",
doi = "10.1007/s10764-018-0019-9",
language = "English (US)",
pages = "1--14",
journal = "International Journal of Primatology",
issn = "0164-0291",
publisher = "Springer New York",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Meat Eating by Wild Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii)

T2 - Effects of Prey Age on Carcass Consumption Sequence

AU - Gilby, Ian

AU - Wawrzyniak, Daniel

PY - 2018/2/9

Y1 - 2018/2/9

N2 - Despite the fact that many primates consume vertebrate prey, surprisingly little is known about the nutritional benefits of eating meat for members of this diverse order. Although chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) primarily eat plant source foods, especially fruit, they consume vertebrate prey with excitement, attesting to its nutritional value. Meat is a concentrated source of macro- and micronutrients; however, a carcass is not a uniform package. For example, the mammalian brain has considerably higher fat content than lean muscle tissue. The brain both has great caloric value and contains high concentrations of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are critical for normal brain function. It thus represents a large, nutrient-dense source of energy and essential nutrients that should be highly valued. We filmed consumption of 29 arboreal monkeys by chimpanzees at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, and recorded the order in which general regions of the body were consumed. Overall, the head was significantly more likely to be targeted first than either the torso (including viscera) or appendages. This result was driven by subadult prey, 91% of which were eaten head-first, probably because their skulls were relatively easy for chimpanzees to break with a single bite. Possessors of adult prey (with robust skulls) often first selected the viscera, probably to harvest the fat-rich liver, thus maximizing immediate return in the face of the threat of harassment or theft. This has important implications for our understanding of the nutritional benefits of meat eating among primates, and highlights the need for future studies that measure the nutritional content of specific tissues and examine which are preferentially consumed or shared.

AB - Despite the fact that many primates consume vertebrate prey, surprisingly little is known about the nutritional benefits of eating meat for members of this diverse order. Although chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) primarily eat plant source foods, especially fruit, they consume vertebrate prey with excitement, attesting to its nutritional value. Meat is a concentrated source of macro- and micronutrients; however, a carcass is not a uniform package. For example, the mammalian brain has considerably higher fat content than lean muscle tissue. The brain both has great caloric value and contains high concentrations of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are critical for normal brain function. It thus represents a large, nutrient-dense source of energy and essential nutrients that should be highly valued. We filmed consumption of 29 arboreal monkeys by chimpanzees at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, and recorded the order in which general regions of the body were consumed. Overall, the head was significantly more likely to be targeted first than either the torso (including viscera) or appendages. This result was driven by subadult prey, 91% of which were eaten head-first, probably because their skulls were relatively easy for chimpanzees to break with a single bite. Possessors of adult prey (with robust skulls) often first selected the viscera, probably to harvest the fat-rich liver, thus maximizing immediate return in the face of the threat of harassment or theft. This has important implications for our understanding of the nutritional benefits of meat eating among primates, and highlights the need for future studies that measure the nutritional content of specific tissues and examine which are preferentially consumed or shared.

KW - Diet

KW - Meat eating

KW - Meat-scrap hypothesis

KW - Pan troglodytes

KW - Polyunsaturated fatty acids

KW - Predation

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85041795399&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85041795399&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s10764-018-0019-9

DO - 10.1007/s10764-018-0019-9

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85041795399

SP - 1

EP - 14

JO - International Journal of Primatology

JF - International Journal of Primatology

SN - 0164-0291

ER -