Chimps prefer firm beds and it is another thing that makes them similar to humans. Researchers found this out in the jungles of Uganda. What is common among hominids like chimpanzees make a nest or bed so they can comfortably sleep. Chimps do prefer certain tree species over other kinds of tree. Scientists wondered why chimps picked certain trees over other kinds of trees.
Dr. David Samson, University of Nevada, and Dr. Kevin Hunt, Indiana University, measured numerous kinds of trees in the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve in Uganda. They looked at the stiffness and bending strength of 326 branches from 7 tree species that the chimps commonly used. They also looked at the architecture of the seven tree species.
Their conclusion was that chimps preferred firm bed because the tree species that had the most chimp nests was the Ugandan Ironwood. Chimps chose this tree 73.6 percent of time for their nests. Only 9,6 percent of the trees in the area were Ugandan Ironwood. Ugandan ironwood happens to be the stiffest of all the trees tested. There was not much distance between leaves on the branches and the leaf surface area of the leaves of this tree is quite small as well. These characteristics make this tree an ideal nesting place for these chimps.
Dr. Samson and Dr.Hunt think the chimps select trees due to firmness of the tree, distance between the leaves and leaf surface area. Ugandan ironwood trees may provide protection from predators and poisons as well as regulation of temperature and comfort. Dr. Samson thinks that humans and chimps are similar in that they are both very picky where they sleep. Chimps are inherently attracted to a comfortable bed. They even want to get a certain kind of wood for the bed.
Another reason that chimps prefer firm beds might be that like humans, chimps need a good sleep to function well the next day. The difference between chimps and human is that they go to sleep in the same nest every night. They search for the tree that they prefer and build a completely, brand new nest in that tree. The nests are fairly high up the tree. To make a nest, the chimpanzees weave strong stems and foliage together to form a mattress that sinks in the middle. In other words, chimps learn how to make a hammock out of leaves and stems.
Researchers have known that chimps have been building hammock-like nests since Jane Goodall studied apes and chimps in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, in the 60s. There are numerous advantages for the chimps to not be sleeping on the floor of the forest. In 2011, a human female researcher slept with the chimps for six nights. She found the next to be quite warms and to be able to preserve her from the mosquitoes. It is true that mosquitos are less likely to be hanging around a Ugandan ironwood because of their natural ability to repel mosquitoes. She especially felt safe that it kept her from being eaten by the hyenas who had howled all night long. Chimps prefer firm beds in very stiff Ugandan ironwood trees. This preference makes them akin to humans as humans like a firm bed, too.
By Tom Clark