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A bitter war between chimps in the 1970s might be explained with social networking software

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43 years ago, a group of chimpanzees that were once living peacefully in Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park suddenly split in two — one in the north area of the park, and the other in the south. The members, who once cohabited the same area, eventually became so territorial that those unlucky enough to wander into the rival group's area without protection were killed, often brutally.

What happens with chimps could happen with us

This turf war went on for four years, and was chronicled by Jane Goodall, who has spent more than 50 years in the park during her storied primatology career. She kept tabs on this conflict during her observations, something that's now being reevaluated with the help of social networking software, NewScientist reports.

Evolutionary anthropologists from Duke University have now taken data from Goodall's notes, and run them through complex social behavior software. According to their study, the conflict centers around the death of a senior male chimp that had bridged the two disparate groups together; when he died, a power struggle ensued. The researchers are now using that information to search for links on social organization between human beings and chimps, as well as predict future conflicts based on changes to group dynamics.