A recent study reported what seemed to be a fashion craze started by a single chimp.
As uniquely amazing as animals are, people rarely associate fashion sense with any of them - even human-like chimps. However, a recent study reported what seemed to be a fashion craze started by a single chimp.
In 2010, a Zambian chimp named Julie began going about her days with a long grass strand hanging out of her ear. Seven of the 11 other chimps in her group noticed this and did the same, continuing it even after Julie died.
According to study author Edwin van Leeuwen, "The chimps would pick a piece of grass, sometimes fiddle around with it as to make the piece more to their liking, and not until then try and stick it in their ear."
Van Leeuwen’s team watched four different Zambian chimp groups for 1 year. While most other tools and behaviors had specific purposes for activities like grooming or obtaining food, scientists couldn’t find one for the grass-in-ear behavior, concluding it had to be a result of culture.
Also, even though the chimps all lived in the same area, only 1 group adopted wearing ear grass. So, it may be less about individual fashion sense and more about identifying with a group - much like people might wear the same type of headgear specific to a region or team.