In each instance, individuals from the same group were more likely to use similar techniques, the team reports this week in Nature Human Behaviour. And most agree that primates don't seem to be able to build on previous inventions, an ability that "is the hallmark of human culture" and that allows us to develop complex technologies and rituals, notes psychologist Bennett Galef of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. "This is some of the best evidence for learning" of vocalizations, says Wrangham. The strongyle nematode species Oesophagosotmum stephanostomum is largely responsible for the observed cases of illness recorded at Mahale during the rainy season, when these medicinal plants are most frequently used by chimpanzees. The key difference, he and his colleagues found, is that whereas most orangs are solitary, the Sumatran tool-using animals travel and feed close together, perhaps because there is plenty of food to go around. For the chimpanzee archaeology project, the first decision was where to dig. The extra interaction in Sumatra allows an invention by one animal to spread when its compatriots observe it, he adds. The African rainforest has been a place traditionally avoided by archaeologists because of, among other reasons, the cumbersome logistics of transportation, survey, and isolation. A decade later at Taï, Boesch and his colleagues noticed a slightly different technique. Yet simply noting these geographical differences begs the question of how they develop and how they are maintained. Although other adults ignored Yo's nutcracking, a few young chimps watched her intently and later picked up and cracked nuts themselves. But in the early 1990s McMaster's Galef and other animal behaviorists pointed out that the skill took several years to spread through the group and suggested that troop members, once they paid attention to the potatoes, discovered on their own how to wash them--essentially reinventing the wheel. Every day chimpanzees are being killed in the wild and their forest habitat is being destroyed. Christophe Boesch had previously noticed large pieces of stone breaking off hammers. Munich - May 23, 2002 West African chimpanzees use stones and branches as hammers to crack open different types of nuts. The benefits of tolerance Whether you call primate behaviors "culture" or not, researchers say that primate traditions may offer insight into the origins of human culture. This project has confirmed for the first time that archaeology can be successfully applied to the study of past chimpanzee behavior. They wait for the insects to swarm halfway up the stick, then withdraw the tool and sweep ants off with their free hand, gathering a crunchy mouthful of hundreds of ants. He studies a community near the village of Bossou, Guinea, where the chimps are skilled tool users and frequently use rock hammers and anvils to crack the hard shells of oil palm nuts to get at the fatty meat inside; coula nuts do not grow here, although they are found on nearby Mount Nimba. But earlier this year he noted that those differences correlate with factors such as average body size and so might be genetic rather than "cultural" in origin. To see the beginnings of culture in other species, says Boesch, "helps us to see what is unique about humans.". All rights Reserved. In last week's issue of Nature, researchers from the seven longest established chimpanzee field studies combined observations and listed 39 behaviors, from tool design to grooming to mating displays, that are distinct to particular groups and not readily explained by ecological differences. Their argument rests on two main kinds of evidence: examples in which one chimp learns from another, and the results of such learning--the seemingly arbitrary differences in habits between chimpanzee groups at different sites. The nuts they crack are actually available throughout tropical Africa, yet nut-cracking behavior has been documented only among chimpanzees from Western Ivory Coast Liberia and Southern Guinea-Conakry. "It's very similar to what we see in some chimp populations." Even so, Boesch and others argue that the nascent cultural stirrings of our primate cousins may help uncover the roots of human culture, showing that, for example, gregariousness--hunting and foraging together rather than alone --may have spurred cultural development. By Amanda Heidt May. For example, in the very first evidence of possible primate culture, reported in 1958, primatologists Shunzo Kawamura and Masao Kawai of Kyoto University observed as a young female macaque living on the small island of Koshima discovered how to wash sandy sweet potatoes (provided by the researchers) in a nearby stream. Multicultural chimps Some of the best evidence for primate culture has come from field studies comparing the repertoire of chimpanzee skills and behaviors in groups around Africa. Therefore, nut-cracking is a cultural behavior , which, like human culture, can help distinguish one population from another. The results open a new territory for many disciplines, including primatology, archaeology, and paleoanthropology, and indicate the possibility that some of the technologically simplest Oldowan sites could be re-interpreted as nut-cracking sites and more generally that some subsets of artifacts from the more sophisticated Oldowan assemblages could be seen as material proof that early hominids were able to eat nuts contained in hard shells. The chimp pops the meat in his mouth and scampers off. Medicinal Plant Use by Chimpanzees in the Wild Because chimpanzees are so like us they are often used in laboratory experiments to find cures for many human diseases. He and others also note that active, deliberate teaching, which some claim is a prerequisite for culture, is also rare among chimpanzees. Some researchers argue that that is because our primate cousins do not learn as we do, by imitation and instruction. But chimps from just a few hundred kilometers away would probably stroll right past Lefkas's dining site. The Taï method, analogous to eating soup with a tiny sugar spoon, collects only one-fourth as many ants per minute, but in 2 decades of observation, no animals at Taï have ever eaten ants Gombe-style, presumably because no chimp there ever discovered it. The ground where Lefkas was sitting is strewn with coula nut shells, the leavings of other chimpanzees' meals. Following the order of simple actions is not the same as humans' imitation of fine motor movements such as dance steps, says Heyes. Another voice usually responds, and soon the din drowns out even the copulation cries of monkeys and the screech of the hyrax. But one population, in Sumatra, uses sticks to scrape out the hairs and get at the seeds. To find out, anthropologist Richard Wrangham of Harvard University and his colleagues studied calls in two captive groups where chimps from a mix of wild populations live together. In a survey of chimps throughout Côte d'Ivoire, Boesch found no evidence for nutcracking anywhere east of a river called the Sassandra-N'Zo, even though both nuts and rocks are readily available throughout the forest. And Matsuzawa cautions that chimp imitation is rare in the wild. Chimpanzee culture refers to how groups have different behavioural traditions, which are passed on by learning and imitation rather than genes. Moreover the number of stone pieces per m2, and the size of the stone clusters themselves mimic some assemblages from this period. Chimpanzee ArchaeologyOriginal URL: Scientists Use Archaeological Methods To Investigate Chimp Camp Wild Chimpanzee Foundation. In spite of the mixture of genetic backgrounds, each colony had a characteristic style of pant-hoot. He thinks smaller teeth might be a sign of increased tolerance, as canines are often used in fighting among group members. Eventually most of her group was doing it too. Each folded leaf is then swallowed whole without being chewed. How old is this behavior? Cultural divide. Such examples add up to an impressive list. Archaeology has proven a reliable, efficient, and feasible method to uncover past chimpanzee activities in the rainforest. Chimpanzees are one such species and exhibit a large diversity of cultural … To answer these questions Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute For Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, Julio Mercader, a specialist in rainforest archaeology at the George Washington University, and Melissa Panger, who studies primate tool use, also at George Washington University, launched the first archaeological excavation of a chimpanzee nut-cracking site in September 2001. The hairy, rough texture of the leaf is a characteristic common to 19 species now known to be used in this way. Most anthropologists stick to a narrower definition, requiring culture to include language and whole systems of behavior.

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