Originally published March 26 2014
Humans are not the only animals to engage in war - Similar behaviors are seen in chimpanzees, wolves, lions and even ants
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) There are two broad categories of behavior that, in humans, may be labeled as "war." The first and most familiar to us are large-scale battles between two or more opposing forces. Similar behavior is seen in many species of ants and other social insects, in which battles may take place between tens of thousands of individuals from different colonies. Most of these battles take place over territory. Insects deploy a wide variety of tactics in these battles -- including, in at least one termite species, suicide bombing! As they age, workers in the species Neocapritermes taracua fill up with toxic blue crystals. In battle, the termites explode, spraying their enemies with poison.
The second type of human behavior labeled as "war" is actually far more common, historically and cross-culturally speaking. In most cultures throughout history, the majority of warfare has consisted of surprise lethal attacks on badly outnumbered opponents, followed by a quick retreat -- a pattern known as "lethal raiding." Remarkably similar behavior is seen in the common chimpanzee, one of our two closest genetic relatives. Groups of chimpanzee males will gather together for the explicit purpose of penetrating deep into enemy territory, tracking down a lone chimp from a rival group and then ganging up on them and killing them. Lethal raids can be clearly distinguished from other behaviors, such as the border-testing that takes place when large mixed-sex groups loudly and overtly approach a territorial boundary to exchange visual and vocal challenges with a rival group. Raids, in contrast, are composed almost entirely of males who move silently and cautiously far beyond their territorial boundary.
Although such premeditated raids have not yet been proven in other species, many are known to take part in cooperative killing of rivals. Lions, hyenas and wolves have all been known to gang up and kill lone members of rival groups whenever the opportunity presents itself. Similar behavior has also been observed, although less frequently, in the cheetah and the red colobus monkey. Like chimpanzees and humans, lions and wolves regularly patrol the perimeters of their territories, confronting and attacking any intruders. Lone intruders are often killed.
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