Monday, 25 July 2016

Traveling chimpanzees are more likely to use tools, study finds

JULY 20, 2016

by Brett Smith

There’s an old Malay folk saying, “The crab living under the coconut does not see the world,” and it turns out the same maxim applies to chimpanzees, as a new study found chimps that travel more are more likely to acquire tool-using abilities.

Published in the journal eLife, the new study also found a low availability of ripe fruit also increases chimpanzees' propensity for acquiring new skills, but the connection isn’t as strong as travel.

"Our results show that travel fosters tool use in wild chimpanzees and it may also have been a driving force in early technological evolution by humans," study author Thibaud Gruber, a biologist from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, said in a press release.

Studying Chimps Who Travel

For the study, researchers tracked a group of chimps living in the Budongo Forest of Uganda over the course of 7 years. During that time, they watched as one chimp named Hawa replenished his energy spent traveling by foraging for honey, while another chimp, Squibs, was more sedentary and hadn’t figured out how to find the sweet treat.

Study researchers examined information from nine other chimpanzee communities to confirm the connection between travel and acquiring new skills.

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