Chimps can sniff out strangers from family members

BERLIN: Chimpanzees can sniff out strangers from family members by discriminating between the smell of group members and others.

Chimps can sniff out strangers from family members

Photo for representational purpose only. DPA/PTI

BERLIN: Chimpanzees can sniff out strangers from family members by discriminating between the smell of group members and others.

Researchers, including those from Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, conducted one of the first studies investigating the signalling function of social odours in non-human great apes.

Published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study presented two groups of chimpanzees with urine from group members, strangers and an unscented control in aerated plexiglass boxes and videotaped their behaviour.

Chimpanzees sniffed longer at urine than at the control, suggesting they perceive the odour of other chimpanzees.

More importantly, they discriminated between the smell of group members and strangers, sniffing outgroup odours longer than ingroup odours.

“Chimpanzees are highly territorial, and encounters between groups are mostly hostile—in fact, they sometimes kill individuals from other communities—so olfactory cues might help them to locate other animals and determine whether they are group members or strangers, enhancing their survival and leading to fitness benefits,” said Stefanie Henkel of the University of Leipzig.

“Odour might be especially important because most chimpanzees live in dense forests where visibility is low, and because in chimpanzee societies, group members split up into subgroups that may not see each other for days,” Henkel said.

The researchers found that chimpanzees sniffed longer at the odour the more closely related they were to the odour donor, providing the first evidence for odour-mediated kin recognition in non-human great apes.

“The ability to recognise kin is crucial, because it allows animals to choose appropriate partners for coalitions, avoid mating with close relatives, and avoid killing their own offspring,”  said Jo Setchell from Durham University in the UK.

“There is evidence that humans can also recognise the smell of their relatives, even as newborns. We apparently retained good olfactory capabilities, although we—like our closest relatives, the chimpanzees—don’t usually scent-mark, and lack the specialised olfactory system found in many other animals,” said Setchell.

“Our results help us to understand the evolution of primate chemical communication and suggest that we should pay more attention to olfaction in apes,” said Setchell. PTI


View All

4 Lakhi Jungle panches move no-trust vote against sarpanch

Allege she was not consulting them before taking decisions

Woman booked for duping husband of Rs 20L

After calling him to Canada, she left him citing ‘extramarit...

100 trees face axe for road to Mohali

UT completes formalities to acquire 13 acres in Dadu Majra &...

2019: Quantum jump in drug seizure

226 were held with drugs, including cocaine, charas, ganja, ...

DSP opens fire at wife, booked

Narrow escape for victim as bullet misses shoulder

Ahead of elections, Kejriwal brings out ‘guarantee card’

Delhi CM promises free bus rides for students, mohalla marsh...

Tile work ‘choking’ trees

Council of Engineers lodges complaint with NGT chief

Dyers move NGT against ministry order

Have been asked to construct canal for waste discharge

Rs 35-cr building at GMC yet to open

Health Corporation, college authorities blame each other for...

No swine flu cases in dist this season

61 cases were reported in 2019; Health Dept taking proactive...