Chimpanzees Essay

Words: 2500
Pages: 10

Chimpanzee Droppings Lead Scientists to
Evolutionary Discovery by Erica F. Kosal, Biology Department, North Carolina Wesleyan College

Part I—Chimpanzee Behavior
Far in the remote western African jungles of Cameroon, Dr. Beatrice
Hahn and her team of scientists from the University of Alabama have been examining chimpanzee droppings. Members of the great ape family, chimpanzees typically travel in groups of  to  animals, forming smaller subgroups to forage during the day and then coming together again to sleep in trees at night. Communities lack a definite leader and are usually split into a number of subgroups, often when the animals go to forage. These subgroups (referred to as “fusion-fission groups”) are temporary and change in
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The researchers are interested in finding out whether the siv found in wild chimpanzees is the same virus as the siv found in captive Western chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes troglodytes. This subspecies of chimpanzees lives in the wild in Cameroon, Gabon, and the Congo Republic. If this virus were to be found in wild chimpanzees in one of these three countries, the scientists could identify the location where hiv evolved, as the siv is thought to have “jumped” from chimpanzees to humans (a process called zoonosis). This process was estimated to have occurred  to  years ago.

. What is it about chimpanzee society that may have contributed to the spread of the siv virus?
. If the virus found in captive Western chimpanzees is the same virus found in wild Western chimpanzees, how would you be able to verify this? What types of techniques might be employed?
What types of data would be desired?
. What might scientists gain from knowing the location of the origin of hiv?
. How might siv have “jumped” from a chimpanzee to a human? Outline the series of events that would have led to the origin of hiv from an siv ancestor.
. What methodology might Dr. Hahn use to detect the siv in the fecal droppings? (Hint: it is the same way that we test humans for the presence of hiv.)
. The researchers are engaged in field, or basic, science. They are