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mega-culture
February 8, 2014 11:48 PM   Subscribe

A huge "yet mysterious" chimpanzee 'mega-culture' discovered in remote Congo - a community of perhaps tens of thousands of individuals with its own unique customs and behaviors, the Guardian reports. Observed unique behaviors include feasting on leopards and using tools to harvest giant African snails. See earlier report "The giant lion-eating chimps of the magic forest" and new camera trap videos and survey results.

The chimpanzees are unusually large up to 6 feet tall. When first rumored to exist in the 1990s, and based on skull specimens, it was speculated they might be a hybrid chimp/gorilla and were named the 'Bili ape' or the 'Bondo mystery ape' among cryptozoologists. A number of expeditions were mounted to find a living animal but came up empty. They were first captured on video by American primatologist Shelly Williams in 2003 who is usually credited with their discovery. She described her encounter in a New Scientist article "The Beast With No Name".
"Four suddenly came rushing out of the bush towards me. If this had been a bluff charge, they would have been screaming to intimidate us. These guys were quiet. And they were huge. They were coming in for the kill. I was directly in front of them, and as soon as they saw my face, they stopped and disappeared."
In a 2005 Time magazine article, Williams defended her theories against scientific critics who discounted her methods.
"The unique characteristics they exhibit just don’t fit into the other groups of great apes. The primates could be a new species, a new subspecies of chimpanzee or a hybrid of chimpanzee and gorilla. At the very least, we have a unique, isolated chimp culture that's unlike any that’s been studied." (emphasis added)
The Bili Forest is one of the last unspoiled wildernesses in Africa and home to many other wild animals including elephants, lions, hyenas, leopards, giant forest hogs, giant pangolin, baboons, grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed guenons, and buffalo. The region is virtually lawless. Human encroachment is minimal except for the thriving bushmeat trade.

Shelly was shot in the back in a random shooting in Atlanta, Georgia in 2005, she has not walked since. In 2009, her assailant was sentenced to life in prison. While it remains unclear if they are a new species it appears they are indeed a unique chimp culture.
posted by stbalbach (29 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mangani?

What the Guardian article describes is actually a pretty good match for some of the basics of Burroughs' description. Well, except for the drumming and spoken language. And the raising orphan British lords to manhood.
posted by kikaider01 at 12:07 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Link number three is the actual video footage! I love the one where a leopard knocks the camera off the tree.

Also, this forest is so incredibly valuable. Surely our giant world civilization can scrape up a few small resources to defend it.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:15 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Post needs the ArthurJermyn tag.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:24 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]


I am slightly disappointed that the videos don't not include footage of a chimp king with a feathered headdress ordering around his minions from a temple that they built in his honor.
posted by sour cream at 1:26 AM on February 9 [6 favorites]


So, is there a Gorilla Grodd out there somewhere too?

Also, this forest is so incredibly valuable. Surely our giant world civilization can scrape up a few small resources to defend it.

No. No, we can't.
posted by Mezentian at 1:38 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Great. The humans have showed up. There goes the neighborhood. Guys...hey guys, time for Plan B. You got the serum ready?
posted by digitalprimate at 3:02 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Oh man I so want there to be an undiscovered bronze age ape civilization or something.

(Though, does "mega-culture" make anyone else think of Judge Dredd?)
posted by hattifattener at 3:11 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


"These guys were quiet. And they were huge. They were coming in for the kill. I was directly in front of them, and as soon as they saw my face, they stopped and disappeared."

In the distant future, this will be the moment when the Medusa enters ancient chimp mythology.
posted by three blind mice at 4:21 AM on February 9 [7 favorites]


It didn't, but now that you mention it, yes.
posted by Mezentian at 4:24 AM on February 9


Lovely post, thank you stbalbach.

just a weird segue from 'being shot in the back straight into the apes again' in the last two sentences had me confused for a moment as to whether it was apes that did the shooting
posted by infini at 4:29 AM on February 9 [8 favorites]


6feet tall? Jinkies! Even the 3 foot tall ones are stone cold killer when try want to be. Shudder
posted by ian1977 at 4:32 AM on February 9


Post needs the ArthurJermyn tag.

Nothing ever needs that tag.

Also, mark me down as another reader who thought that the chimps might have shot her; I also read "assailant" as "assistant" for further confusion....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:15 AM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Wasn't this the plot of a Michael Crichton book?
posted by whatzit at 5:25 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I am slightly disappointed that the videos don't not include footage of a chimp king with a feathered headdress ordering around his minions from a temple that they built in his honor.

And he has the voice of Louis Prima.
posted by valkane at 5:42 AM on February 9 [10 favorites]


this is really quite incredible.

I wonder though... is this a new development? Or were all chimps like this before we started decimating their habitats?
posted by rebent at 5:53 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Chimpanzee culture 'confirmed', BBC News, August 22, 2005:
The research adds weight to decades of field studies on wild primates suggesting that they have rich cultural traditions unmatched in species other than our own.

Chimpanzees in West Africa, for example, use stones and pieces of wood to crack open nuts for food; but this has never been observed in chimps living in East Africa.

It suggests that the common ancestor of chimps and humans, living some four to six million years ago, probably also had a desire to conform - the hallmark of human culture.

"If both species have elements of culture, it is highly likely the ancient ancestor had too," said co-author Dr Victoria Horner, "so culture probably has a deep-rooted ancient origin."
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
posted by cenoxo at 6:27 AM on February 9


Aping each other through millenia?
posted by infini at 6:33 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Oh shit, says humanity.
posted by ocschwar at 6:51 AM on February 9


Oongowa
posted by Flashman at 6:59 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Marlene Deitrich GorillaBlonde Venus (1932).
posted by cenoxo at 7:06 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


had me confused for a moment as to whether it was apes that did the shooting

Not the unusually advanced ones, no.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:39 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


This is how it starts. Wake up, sheeple!
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:47 AM on February 9




Gorillas arent even close to 6 feet tall so if the chimps are a hybrid its a hybrid of something else.
posted by Colonel Panic at 9:18 AM on February 9


Humanzee.

Early humans and chimps may have interbred to create hybrid man, The Independent, May 18, 2006.
posted by cenoxo at 10:04 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


One intelligent group of hominids per planet. No exceptions.
posted by codswallop at 1:50 PM on February 9


thus starteth the uplift war ...
posted by infini at 2:18 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


That's amazing! I hope they can be protected.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:34 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Though, does "mega-culture" make anyone else think of Judge Dredd?

Protoculture. These are clearly...

MDC chimpanzees.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:50 AM on February 10


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