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Title: Community-specific evaluation of tool affordances in wild chimpanzees
Authors: Gruber, Thibaud
Muller, Martin N.
Reynolds, Vernon
Wrangham, Richard
Zuberbuehler, Klaus
Keywords: QL Zoology
Issue Date: 3-Nov-2011
Citation: Gruber , T , Muller , M N , Reynolds , V , Wrangham , R & Zuberbuehler , K 2011 , ' Community-specific evaluation of tool affordances in wild chimpanzees ' Scientific Reports , vol 1 , 128 , pp. - . , 10.1038/srep00128
Abstract: The notion of animal culture, defined as socially transmitted community-specific behaviour patterns, remains controversial, notably because the definition relies on surface behaviours without addressing underlying cognitive processes. In contrast, human cultures are the product of socially acquired ideas that shape how individuals interact with their environment. We conducted field experiments with two culturally distinct chimpanzee communities in Uganda, which revealed significant differences in how individuals considered the affording parts of an experimentally provided tool to extract honey from a standardised cavity. Firstly, individuals of the two communities found different functional parts of the tool salient, suggesting that they experienced a cultural bias in their cognition. Secondly, when the alternative function was made more salient, chimpanzees were unable to learn it, suggesting that prior cultural background can interfere with new learning. Culture appears to shape how chimpanzees see the world, suggesting that a cognitive component underlies the observed behavioural patterns.
Version: Publisher PDF
Status: Peer reviewed
ISSN: 2045-2322
Type: Journal article
Rights: (c) The Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit
Appears in Collections:University of St Andrews Research
Psychology & Neuroscience Research
Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution Research
Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences Research

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