Earlier this week, the New York Times covered a study that proved chimps make war on each other, slaughtering enemies and eating their children. But does that really count as "war"?
Mark Moffett, author of Adventures Among Ants, told io9 that what chimps do isn't war. He believes that ants are the only other creatures who make war on each other, besides humans. Here's what he said:
Monday's report in the NY Times on chimpanzee "warfare" isn't quite accurate in the use of the word "war," as my investigations of ants confirm.
As in most human hunter-gatherer groups of similarly small size, chimpanzees target single individuals in a stealthy raid, rather than carry out the full-bore mass attacks developed over the past two millennia by the human societies populated with hundreds of thousands or millions.
In my book Adventures Among Ants, I found the same strategic shift occurs across ants as the size of their societies similarly increases from dozens into the millions. Indeed, among animals only ants and humans have societies at the upper end of this size continuum, and only ants and humans turn out to have true warfare.
Of course chimpanzees are close relatives of humans. But the behavior of ants suggests the size of social groups can explain strategies for fighting, even across unrelated species.
What do you think? Are ants warlike while chimps are just skirmishing? Are only humans capable of war?
Photo by Alex Wild