Chimps Use Tools for Sex!

by Laurie McAndish King on May 5, 2010

The New York Times published an enlightening article by John Tierney about the fact that chimpanzees have been found to use tools (nothing new) for sex (oh boy!):

The human ego has never been quite the same since the day in 1960 that Jane Goodall observed a chimpanzee feasting on termites near Lake Tanganyika. After carefully trimming a blade of grass, the chimpanzee poked it into a passage in the termite mound to extract his meal. No longer could humans claim to be the only tool-making species.

The deflating news was summarized by Ms. Goodall’s mentor, Louis Leakey: “Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as human.”

So what have we actually done now that we’ve had a half-century to pout? In a 50th anniversary essay in the journal Science, the primatologist William C. McGrew begins by hailing the progression of chimpanzee studies from field notes to “theory-driven, hypothesis-testing ethnology.”

He tactfully waits until the third paragraph — journalists call this “burying the lead” — to deliver the most devastating blow yet to human self-esteem. After noting that chimpanzees’ “tool kits” are now known to include 20 items, Dr. McGrew casually mentions that they’re used for “various functions in daily life, including subsistence, sociality, sex, and self-maintenance.”

Sex? Chimpanzees have tools for sex? No way. If ever there was an intrinsically human behavior, it had to be the manufacture of sex toys.

Read the rest of John Tierney’s article here.

Oh boy!

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