Travel fosters tool use in wild chimpanzees
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Ecological variation influences the appearance and maintenance of tool use in animals, either due to necessity or opportunity, but little is known about the relative importance of these two factors. Here, we combined long-term behavioural data on feeding and travelling with six years of field experiments in a wild chimpanzee community. In the experiments, subjects engaged with natural logs, which contained energetically valuable honey that was only accessible through tool use. Engagement with the experiment was highest after periods of low fruit availability involving more travel between food patches, while instances of actual tool-using were significantly influenced by prior travel effort only. Additionally, combining data from the main chimpanzee study communities across Africa supported this result, insofar as groups with larger travel efforts had larger tool repertoires. Travel thus appears to foster tool use in wild chimpanzees and may also have been a driving force in early hominin technological evolution.
Gruber , T , Zuberbühler , K & Neumann , C 2016 , ' Travel fosters tool use in wild chimpanzees ' eLife , vol 5 , no. JULY , e16371 . DOI: 10.7554/eLife.16371
Copyright Gruber et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) and from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under REA grant agreement N°329197 awarded to TG, ERC grant agreement N°283871 awarded to KZ.