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Semliki Chimpanzee Project (July, 1996)
Field Study in Africa
Web Site:
Location of Site: UGANDA, Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve

Director: Kevin D. Hunt
Phone: 1 812 855 3857   Fax: 1 812 855 4358   E-Mail:
SB 130, Bloomington, Indiana 47405 UNITED STATES
Department: Indiana University

Sponsoring Institution(s): Indiana University, NSF

Research Objectives: My team is currently habituating chimpanzees in the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve. After habituation I will attempt to test predictions of bipedalism origin hypotheses. Most paleontologists recognize striding bipedalism as the defining attribute of the Hominidae. There is, however, little agreement about the selective forces that resulted in this primary adaptation, nor the course of its evolution. Australopithecine fossil assemblages suggest they lived in a drier habitat than that in which extant chimpanzees are typically found (although wetter than many assumed previously). For bipedalism to have evolved as a specialization for gathering small fruits from small trees, such resources must have been abundant in protohominid habitats. The postural feeding hypothesis therefore predicts that dry-forest habitats will have significantly more small-diameter, fibrous, high-energy/low-secondary-compound fruits, and that trees will be short. A test of these predictions and predictions arising from other bipedalism origin hypotheses requires observations of dry-habitat chimpanzee ecology and behavior.

Species Studied: Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii (East African chimpanzee)

Other Species at Site: Cercopithecus ascanius (red-tailed monkey), Cercopithecus mitis (blue monkey), Chlorocebus (vervet), Colobus (black-and-white colobus), Papio (baboon)

Last Updated: 2010-02-18

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