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  (Source: harvard.edu)
Female chimpanzees use sticks as "dolls"

Apparently all girls are programmed to play with dolls...  even chimpsA new study featured in the Current Biology journal indicates that just like male and female humans, chimpanzees play differently depending on what sex they are.

While boy chimps tended to use sticks as toy weapons, girl chimps tended to carry them around as dolls instead.

"This is the first evidence of an animal species in the wild in which object play differs between males and females," said Richard Wrangham of Harvard University.

During a fourteen year observation of the Kanyawara chimpanzee community in Kibale National Park, Uganda, scientists discovered that chimpanzees primarily used sticks in four different ways; to probe holes that potentially contained honey or water; as props in displays or as weapons; during solitary or social play; and in a behavior that the study terms as 'stick-carrying'.

Stick-carrying consisted of holding or cradling detached sticks.  Although both male and female chimpanzees play with sticks, females play with them more often and they occasionally treat them like mother chimpanzees caring for their infants, the study reports. 

"We thought that if the sticks are being treated like dolls, females would carry sticks more than males do and should stop carrying sticks when they have their own babies," Wrangham said. "We now know that both of these points are correct."

While the study concludes that the young chimps learned their play habits socially from each other, the findings suggests that the tendency for girls to play more with dolls than boys do is a "biological predilection" and not just a result of sex-stereotyped socialization.




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