The discovery gives researchers new insight into the evolutionary origins of the strange maneuver, which is most commonly performed by greased-up bodybuilders wearing spandex in wrestling rings.
“This is a landmark breakthrough that teaches us a great deal about primate behaviour, human ancestry and the early origins of professional wrestling,” said Dr. Dianne Bosley, leader of the Congo expedition.
After nine weeks in the jungle observing a troupe of chimpanzees, the scientists saw one chimp charge at another that was leaning against a tree, pounce onto it, roll backward and heave the other chimp into the air with a push from its hind legs.
When it landed on its back, the flipped monkey seemed to exaggerate the amount of pain it was feeling, as if “selling” the notion that the attack was highly effective.
The discovery lends credibility to the long-held assumption that most professional wrestlers are not fully evolved humans.