If we find that animals are smarter than we think we might respect them more. In the Savannah of Guinea and the forests of Liberia it is believed by some that the chimpanzees participate in religious and symbolic behaviours similar to the indigenous people in West Africa. Both the humans and the chimpanzees collect stones into piles at trees that they consider sacred. Is it possible that we have found the first evidence of chimpanzees creating shrines which would indicate that they look upon some trees as sacred?
It is very surprising to read this story. The chimpanzees like to pick up stones and throw them at a tree but sometimes they just place stones gently at the base of the tree creating a cairn.
Primatologist discovered this behaviour which appears to serve no practical purpose but it may be evidence of ritualistic behaviour in non-humans.
A colleague of Laura Kehoe spotted rather strange scuff marks on a tree in the thick Savannah of the Republic of Guinea while studying wild chimpanzees. The researchers set up a camera to film what was going on. When they viewed the footage days later they were very surprised to see the chimpanzees coming up to the tree, picking up stones and throwing them at its base. They also placed stones inside the tree at its base. Apparently this behaviour also takes place with other chimpanzees across West Africa but not in East Africa.
Laura proposed in a scientific paper published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports that it may be a display ritual and the other proposal was that, as mentioned, it could be that the tree has some symbolic, ritualistic significance.
It would not surprise me one iota if chimpanzees were, in their own way, engaging in religious behaviour of some sort. I think this information will jolt some people. It will jolt the concepts of creationist Christians for example. I hope it at least makes people think that they may be wrong when they believe that animals are inferior to humans and are there to be used by humans. I hope it makes one or two people respect animals more, with whom we share the planet.
And I hope that it opens people’s mind to the possibility that animals are far more intelligent than many people give them credit for and that includes the domestic cat. It also includes the feral cat whose welfare is in our hands. We are responsible for the welfare of all cats on the planet. Let’s not disrespect them.
Religion: worship of a personal god, a system of faith and worship.