Researchers have footage of what they claim is the first time a chimpanzee has been seen using a man-made object as a masturbatory tool.
The footage, filmed in Bulindi, Uganda, in August 2018, shows a juvenile male chimp inserting his penis into a empty plastic bottle.
The chimp can be seen making pelvic thrust movements, with the bottle in front of it. According to a report in IFL Science, the scientists said the chimp had a “play face” – a relaxed open mouth expression they make when they are having fun.
The researchers have now released a scientific paper on the behaviour.
“This event could give insights into the wider question of where masturbatory behaviour comes from in wild chimpanzees,” the report reads.
While the researchers say it is common for wild chimpanzees to use natural objects, such as fruit or smooth stones, to stimulate themselves – this is the first time this behaviour has been seen using a man-made object.
They also believe the young chimp may have performed the activity for ‘fun’.
“The masturbatory behaviour most likely resulted from his motivation to inspect and play with a novel human object. Male chimpanzees exhibit penile erections in various contexts besides sexual arousal, such as food excitement and during some social interactions including play,” the researchers wrote in the paper.
The scientists, Matthew McLennan and Kim van Dijk, posted the paper on Twitter earlier in September, saying “this is a paper I never thought we’d write”.