The meat-scrap hypothesis

Small quantities of meat may promote cooperative hunting in wild chimpanzees Pan troglodytes

Claudio Tennie, Ian Gilby, Roger Mundry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A common explanation for hunting in groups is that doing so yields a greater per capita caloric benefit than hunting solitarily. This is logical for social carnivores, which rely exclusively on meat for energy, but arguably not for omnivores, which obtain calories from either plant or animal matter. The common chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, is one of the few true omnivores that regularly hunts in groups. Studies to date have yielded conflicting data regarding the payoffs of group hunting in chimpanzees. Here, we interpret chimpanzee hunting patterns using a new approach. In contrast to the classical assumption that hunting with others maximizes per capita caloric intake, we propose that group hunting is favored because it maximizes an individual's likelihood of obtaining important micronutrients that may be found in small quantities of meat. We describe a mathematical model demonstrating that group hunting may evolve when individuals can obtain micronutrients more frequently by hunting in groups than by hunting solitarily, provided that group size is below a certain threshold. Twenty five years of data from Gombe National Park, Tanzania are consistent with this prediction. We propose that our 'meat-scrap' hypothesis is a unifying approach that may explain group hunting by chimpanzees and other social omnivores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-431
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume63
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Pan troglodytes
meat
hunting
cooperatives
omnivores
Tanzania
group size
carnivores
national parks
energy intake
mathematical models
trace element
prediction
energy
carnivore
animals
national park
animal

Keywords

  • Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
  • Cooperation
  • Diet
  • Hunting
  • Macronutrients
  • Micronutrients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

Cite this

The meat-scrap hypothesis : Small quantities of meat may promote cooperative hunting in wild chimpanzees Pan troglodytes. / Tennie, Claudio; Gilby, Ian; Mundry, Roger.

In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Vol. 63, No. 3, 01.2009, p. 421-431.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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