How This River Made Chimps Violent

Hi this is David from MinuteEarth. A long time ago, a population of apes lived
in the middle of the jungle, eating the plentiful plants on the ground and occasionally searching
out rarer fruits in the trees. But as the once-shallow Congo river in the
middle of their range started to get wider and deeper, the ape population was split in
two: though the North and South of the river contained the exact same kind of apes, they
were now fatefully confined to separate environments. From fossil evidence, we know those environments
were ever-so-slightly different from each other; it just so happened that the one South
of the river had lots more plants on the ground and the one North of the river had big mean
gorillas. And most researchers think that these two
small differences caused the groups of apes to eventually split into two species: one that was violent and
one that was super-snuggly. Why did they end up so different? Well, if you were an ape north of the river,
there would be lots fewer ground plants to eat and big mean gorillas already eating them,
so you’d be more likely to search out rarer fruit up in the trees instead. If you were more aggressive than other Northern
apes, you’d be more likely to get more fruit when you did find it. And because you got more fruit, you’d not
only be more likely to survive but you could use that fruit as a way to attract a potential
mate. On the other hand, if you were an amiable
ape living in the North, you’d likely get less fruit and fewer opportunities to mate. But South of the river, there would likely
be plenty of ground plants to go around – and no gorillas – so being aggressive wouldn’t
get you more food. In fact, in a place where there was no reason
to fight over food, being a jerk could make you an outcast – an easier target for predators
and much less likely to find a mate. But if you were an amiable ape in the lush
South, you’d likely make more friends, and thus be less likely to be eaten by a predator
and more likely to get to reproduce. After thousands of generations, these slight
changes in the advantageous-ness of certain traits led to entirely new species: North
of the river – gorilla country – was stocked with aggressive apes likely to attack any
outsiders they came across – these are chimpanzees. And the lush South was packed with bohemian
simians that took friendliness to such an extreme that they were more likely to make
love than war – these are bonobos. Now, we aren’t sure exactly how much the gorillas
mattered versus the vegetation. And there may have been other factors that
contributed to the split. But when the Congo River got big, it turned
the apes into two species: one that solves conflicts with fighting, and another that
solves them by cuddling. NordVPN – the sponsor for this video – believes
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100 thoughts on “How This River Made Chimps Violent

  1. Viewer support is the mon-key to our success at MinuteEarth! Want to become our Patreon or member on YouTube? Just visit or click "JOIN". Thanks!

  2. I love how the ape family are embracing yet glare at each other like they don't want to be there. It's like a birthday party or something.

  3. Long ago the bonobos lived in harmony. THEN everything changed when the Chimpanzee nation attacked.

  4. *The nature of apes made them violent. All apes are violent. Bonobos are violent too. Humans are violent as well. The noble savage myth has been disproven hundreds of times by researches.
    There's obviously a gradient but there's NO SUCH THING as a non violent ape. Bonobos are also capable and willing to injure and maim all sorts of animals

  5. Scarcity is a bitch lol. I guess I'm the only one who who expected one of the ape groups to eventually evolve into humans 😅

  6. moral: don't be jerks, you won't find your mate and a more likely to be an target for predators/ bullies.

  7. This is a perfect illustration of why humans on different continents advanced so differently. Slight differences in the ecologies where we found ourselves radically altered the course those nodes of our species took. It had nothing to do with who was more "primitive", society was largely a result of access to resources without which we'd all still be in small groups fighting over parcels of hunting land like the rest of the animal kingdom.

    Luck plays a bigger role in our success than anyone wants to admit. There was lots of hard work involved, but you can do everything right and still fail if the world wasn't ready for you. Such is life.

  8. All I can think of is "the south side of chicago" – now tell me this doesn't apply to humans

  9. Later, the Northern chimps sought to expand their territory. They had generations of practice with war/conflict as well as the advantage of larger herbivore mammals being on the Northern territory that eventually got domesticated ans used for agriculture/war. The Southern Bonobos had no such advantage and were naively docile when the Northern chimps came to explore their land. Eventually the Northern chimps crushed and subjugated all the Southern Bonobos taking their land and resources. At a certain point the Northern chimps allotted specific pieces of land where some remaining Bonobos could live. Many generations later, violence has ceased but there is still some level of resentment to this very day.

    What can we learn from this allegory? Well….I suppose thats for you to decide.

  10. The interesting thing is that evolutionarily the common chimpanzee and it's subspecies are way more successful since their territories have way more range and about 6 times the population of bonobos.

  11. There was a group (tribe/gang?) of chimps I read about once, they had an outbreak of a disease which by some chance affected the more aggressive members of the troop (that's the one) more than the rest and they died off. The survivors were less aggressive and over following generations they became much less aggressive overall.

  12. It'd be interesting to know if something similar happened to humans, and if we are the more aggressive or the more social species, because I could see both

  13. The species you are describing is called faux-nobo by people who actually know anything real about bonobos. 90% of what you hear about them is myth. Can you do a followup episode after discussing with a bonobo expert?

  14. Bonobos calm each other down and pay for favors with non-reproductive sexual activity. In effect, prostitution has become a large part of their peace treaties.

  15. Those who are wondering what happened to the monkeys in the middle of the river. They became the Atlanteans.

  16. also, a lotta more predators on the northside, gorillas are not that aggressive unless you piss them off second fewer resources more predators and fruit viability shifting with the season lad them to be territory to defend resources they have.

  17. Odd that you seem to be suggesting that sitting around, eating, and fornicating all day is the superior way to be. Mind you, the Bonobos are very close to formulating their own Monkey-Soy Lattes.

  18. "Be careful here: this is Donkey Kong Country." -Luigi (from one of my favorite fan-made shows of all time, Super Mario Warfare)

  19. The video is so much better than the horrible clickbait title makes it seem. Almost didn't watch it, glad I did.

  20. Just like crime rates increase with poor living conditions and peace with plentiful resources.

  21. I wondered why there is such a vast difference in behaviour between chimps and bonobos. This seems like a decent explanation, cheers.

  22. Yeah, the bonobos weak and vulnerable. If their circumstances change, they will all die.

  23. Aggressive apes become whiter, chill apes become blacker.

  24. "NordVPN thinks no one should be about to monkey around with your data." Y'know except for when they failed to disclose a year old data breach, effectively allowing someone to monkey around with user data for an entire year. That was a cool by them.

  25. How can deluded people still doubt evolution with these adorable animations, that make this topic so very easy to understand?




  27. The moral of the story?
    Being nice or being violent is good or bad depending on the context

  28. The river bullied the apes, but the apes had no parents or gaurdians to tell on the river.

  29. No. Bonobo ape peacefulness is misrepresented. This was pretty much s pop culture explanation. They instigate violent group rape more than chimps.

  30. That same river also splits Congo in two with north Congo being Congo-Brazzaville who speaks french and south Congo being Congo-Kinshasa who speaks dutch.

  31. Are you saying the Monolith wasn't involved in this? It didn't teach one group how to be violent?

  32. This is sponsored by a VPN, so I'm just gonna leave this here:

  33. The new genome map suggests that about 4.5 million years ago the common ancestor of all three primates (humans, chimps and bonobos) splitoff from the rest, and developed intohumans.

  34. If the northern chimps ever learn to build bridges, the southern chimps are doomed.

  35. NICE!

    but why is the video on fast forward…? – yyyyyyyooooouuuuu taaaaaaaalk reeeeaaaalllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyy fffffaasssssssssstttttttttt!

  36. Cuddling? Such a wierd way to spell massive amount of orgies.

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