Wednesday 27 February 2019

Competent chimpanzee nutcrackers

February 7, 2019, Max Planck Society
Humans consider themselves as the tool user par excellence. Previous work comparing human tool use skills to that of other species tended to place the animals in artificial conditions far removed from their natural environments. Such comparisons disadvantage the animals and lead to underestimating the tool use demonstrated by wild populations. In a first comparison between individuals of two groups of humans and chimpanzees cracking nuts in their natural environment, researchers recently tested how quickly and how completely a technique was acquired by the offspring of the two species.
The Taï chimpanzees in Côte d"Ivoire, famous for their nut-cracking behavior, were compared to the Mbendjele BaYaka people, who also habitually crack the same species of nuts, Panda oleosa, in the forest of the Republic of Congo. Following Mbendjele women groups as they foraged in the forest, the scientists used the same measures of efficiencies as used previously on the Taï chimpanzees to observe how the technique is acquired by both groups in the forest.

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