We've read reports of people observing Bigfoots swimming like frogs. Finally, there's proof that apes can actually swim. Scientists at the School of Anatomical Sciences at Wits University have just documented the first time that, like humans, apes can actually swim and dive. Instead of the usual dog-paddle stroke, the chimps used a kind of breaststroke "frog kick" that's similar to humans:
Both animals use a leg movement similar to the human breaststroke 'frog kick'. While Cooper moves the hind legs synchronous, Suryia moves them alternatively. The researchers believe that this swimming style might be due to an ancient adaptation to an arboreal life. Most mammals use the so-called dog-paddle, a mode of locomotion that they employ instinctively. Humans and apes, on the other hand, must learn to swim. The tree-dwelling ancestors of apes had less opportunity to move on the ground. They thus developed alternative strategies to cross small rivers, wading in an upright position or using natural bridges. They lost the instinct to swim. Humans, who are closely related to the apes, also do not swim instinctively. But unlike apes, humans are attracted to water and can learn to swim and to dive.
'The behavior of the great apes in water has been largely neglected in anthropology. That's one of the reasons why swimming in apes was never before scientifically described, although these animals have otherwise been studied very thoroughly. We did find other well-documented cases of swimming and diving apes, but Cooper and Suryia are the only ones we were able to film. We still do not know when the ancestors of humans began to swim and dive regularly,' said Nicole Bender.
'This issue is becoming more and more the focus of research. There is still much to explore,' said Renato Bender.
[via Science Daily]