Chimpanzees develop their own fashion trends

African chimps have stumbled upon this season's hottest fashion accessory: the ‘grass-in-ear’ look

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"You're putting an Instagram filter on this, right?"

Chimpanzees in Zambia have been observed participating in what can only be described as a totally meaningless fashion trend – just like dumb humans! According to a study published in scientific journal Animal Cognition, primatology researchers studied four groups of chimpanzees in a Zambian sanctuary and observed a fad in one particular group that they dubbed "grass-in-ear behaviour".

It all started with a chimp called Julie, who would regularly stick a blade of grass into her ear and leave it there. Eight out of 12 of the chimpanzees in her group were so keen on the curious ear jewellery that they followed Julie's style and continued poking grass into their ears even after her death. 

A chimp with its latest accessory
A chimp with its latest accessory Edwin van Leeuwen

"Everybody can wear rings in their ears, but you just have to come to the idea to do it," study author Edwin van Leeuwen told The Dodo. "Any kind of subculture fad in human culture, I'd say, could be the parallel to this grass-in-ear behaviour. Perhaps wearing earrings or certain kinds of hats.” 

While different troupes of chimps often display differences in behaviour, this usually relates to hunting techniques or survival methods. This is thought to be the first time that chimpanzees have been observed to exhibit a collective behaviour with no apparent evolutionary or communication benefit. Nope, this is pure street style. 

So feel free to take out your piercing and replace it with a blade of grass if you want to look good this summer. You don't want to be left embarrassed at a party when everyone's there dressed like a primate, talking about how great chimps are at trend forecasting.

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