Nav: Home

Chimpanzees catch and eat crabs

May 29, 2019

Chimpanzees have a mainly vegetarian diet, but do occasionally eat meat. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now shown for the first time that chimpanzees also eat crabs. In the rainforest of Guinea, the researchers observed how chimpanzees regularly fish for crabs.

"Our study is the first evidence showing that non-human apes regularly catch and eat aquatic fauna," says Kathelijne Koops, researcher at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Zurich. She and her team discovered that chimpanzees in the rainforest of the Nimba Mountains in Guinea consumed fresh-water crabs year-round. The chimpanzees searched for crabs in shal-low streams in the mountainous rainforest region by scratching and churning up the riverbed with their fingers.

The chimpanzees ate crabs irrespective of whether ripe fruit was available as an alternative. Sur-prisingly there was no correlation between the crab-fishing activity and the amount of monthly rainfall. The rate of crab-fishing also remained the same in the dry and in the rainy seasons: Even in the dry season there was enough water in the streams to provide a habitat for crabs. The chimpanzees, however, fished more often for crabs when they were eating fewer ants, which would indicate that crabs and ants have a similar nutritional value for the chimpanzees.

"Female chimpanzees and their offspring fished for crabs more often and for longer than adult males, which we had not expected," says anthropologist Koops. A possible explanation for this finding may be that crabs provide essential fatty acids, as well as micronutrients such as sodium and calcium, which are crucial for maternal and infant health.

Important for the developing brain

The findings on chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, may contribute to our understanding of why aquatic fauna became more and more important as a source of nutrition in the course of human evolution. It is thought that as long as 1.95 million years ago, hominins (ancestors of Ho-mo sapiens) consumed turtles, crocodiles and fish. It is assumed that the regular consumption of these types of aquatic fauna facilitated the growth of the developing brain in early Homo. That is because these creatures contain high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are required for optimal brain growth and function.

"These findings on wild chimpanzees contribute to our understanding of hominin nutrition," says Kathelijne Koops. First, the findings suggest that fishing for crabs in hominins may not have been restricted to lakes, rivers or coastlines, and that those living in forest regions may have also con-sumed crabs. Second, aquatic fauna may have been a regular part of some hominins' diets and not just a seasonal fallback food. Third, the consumption of nutritionally rich crabs and other aquatic fauna may have been especially important for female hominins and their young.
-end-


University of Zurich

Related Nutrition Articles:

Are women getting adequate nutrition during preconception and pregnancy?
In a Maternal & Child Nutrition analysis of published studies on the dietary habits of women who were trying to conceive or were pregnant, most studies indicated that women do not meet nutritional recommendations for vegetable, cereal grain, or folate intake.
Supermarkets and child nutrition in Africa
Hunger and undernutrition are widespread problems in Africa. At the same time, overweight, obesity, and related chronic diseases are also on the rise.
Horse nutrition: Prebiotics do more harm than good
Prebiotics are only able to help stabilise the intestinal flora of horses to a limited degree.
New study measures how much of corals' nutrition comes from hunting
When it comes to feeding, corals have a few tricks up their sleeve.
Nutrition programs alone are not enough to support healthy brain development
Caregiving programs are five times more effective than nutrition programs in supporting smarter, not just taller, children in low- and middle-income countries.
Ant farmers boost plant nutrition
Research, led by Dr. Guillaume Chomicki from the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, has demonstrated that millions of years of ant agriculture has remodeled plant physiology.
Featured research findings from Nutrition 2019
Press materials are now available for Nutrition 2019, the flagship meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, to be held June 8-11, 2019 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Individual nutrition shows benefits in hospital patients
Individualized nutrition not only causes hospital patients to consume more protein and calories, but also improves clinical treatment outcomes.
Study reveals how motivation affects nutrition and diet
New research led by the University of East Anglia suggests that people with a positive attitude are more likely to eat healthily.
High-protein rice brings value, nutrition
A new advanced line of rice, with higher yield, is ready for final field testing prior to release.
More Nutrition News and Nutrition Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#555 Coronavirus
It's everywhere, and it felt disingenuous for us here at Science for the People to avoid it, so here is our episode on Coronavirus. It's ok to give this one a skip if this isn't what you want to listen to right now. Check out the links below for other great podcasts mentioned in the intro. Host Rachelle Saunders gets us up to date on what the Coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what we know and don't know with Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. And...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.