Chimps Understand Fire
Scientists have observed chimps in the wild monitoring and predicting the behavior of fire with surprising accuracy. The chimps have also been known to make what appear to be ritualistic motions, or dances, in front of them. These dances, performed by the alpha male, are similar to the ones performed as thunderstorms approach. The slow-motion dances are also used to express dominance within the community.
This behavior suggests that the chimps understand fire, and do not fear it. This calmness in the face of flame is the first step toward being able to control it. For instance, captive apes have shown the ability to control fire. Since these chimps, with their smaller brains, are able to take steps in that direction, it seems likely that early man would have take the same steps.
These plains-dwelling chimps are different from those that dwell in the forest in a number of ways. In fact, these Fongoli chimpanzees are much like people picture early man: they live in caves, soak in pools of water, and utilize tools while hunting.
Image: "Contemplative Chimp" by gripso_banana_prune on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.Tweet