International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 23–37 | Cite as

New Case of Intragroup Infanticide in the Chimpanzees of Gombe National Park

  • Carson M. MurrayEmail author
  • Emily Wroblewski
  • Anne E. Pusey

Researchers have reported a total of 31 infanticides in 4 different chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) populations. Though infanticide is infrequent, low reproductive rates of females likely make it a strong selective pressure in the species. We report a new incident of intragroup infanticide in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, in which a community male attacked a 3.5-yr-old male. We then consider the infanticide in terms of adaptive and nonadaptive explanations for infanticide including the social pathology, by-product of male aggression, nutritive benefits, resource competition, and sexual selection hypotheses. The incident reported here is not well explained by any of them. While the infanticide is puzzling in terms of ultimate explanations for infanticide, it provides a good context in which to consider proximate mechanisms for offspring recognition. The incident provides some evidence that males may use their mating history with the mother to assess paternity likelihood.


chimpanzees Gombe National Park infanticide intracommunity aggression 



We thank Tanzania National Parks, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, and the Tanzanian Council for Science and Technology for granting permission to conduct research for this project. We also thank the Gombe Stream Research Center for maintaining long-term data collection. In particular, C. Murray thanks Dr. Mike Wilson for comments as she first began this article and for his intellectual support in the field. Field assistants were invaluable, especially Sood Athumani and Matendo Msafiri. We thanks Dr. Shadrack Kamenya at the Gombe Stream Research Center and to Joann Schumacher-Stankey (Jane Goodall Institute’s Center for Primate Studies) for extracting data from the long-term narrative notes. We also thank 2 anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. A grant from Milton Harris, a Dayton-Wilkie Fellowship, a Rothman Fellowship, and the Graduate School at the University of Minnesota funded the work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carson M. Murray
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emily Wroblewski
    • 1
  • Anne E. Pusey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and BehaviorJane Goodall Institute’s Center for Primate Studies, University of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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