Chimps play cop to uphold peace in group

March 9th, 2012 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 9 (IANS) Some of the high ranking chimps practically uphold the ‘law of the jungle’ and maintain peace among warring groups and individuals of their kind, says a new study.

They may not wear helmets and carry handcuffs, but chimps engage in impartial ‘policing’ of conflict, according to anthropologists led by Carel van Schaik, professor at the University of Zurich and Claudia Rudolf von Rohr.

The authors suggest that this behaviour can be regarded as an early evolutionary form of morality. Until now, this behaviour in chimpanzees was only ever documented anecdotally, the journal Public Library of Science ONE reports.

However, the new study now confirms that chimpanzees intervene impartially in a conflict to guarantee the stability of their group, exhibiting prosocial behaviour based on the welfare of their community, according to the Daily Mail.

Researchers also found that the arbiters were more willing to intervene impartially if several quarrellers were involved in a dispute, probably because such conflicts are more likely to jeopardise group peace.

“The interest in community concern that is highly developed in us humans and forms the basis for our moral behaviour is deeply rooted. It can also be observed in our closest relatives,” concludes von Rohr.

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