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dc.contributor.authorDavis, Sarah Jayne
dc.contributor.authorVale, Gillian Louise
dc.contributor.authorSchapiro, Steven J.
dc.contributor.authorLambeth, Susan P.
dc.contributor.authorWhiten, Andrew
dc.identifier.citationDavis , S J , Vale , G L , Schapiro , S J , Lambeth , S P & Whiten , A 2016 , ' Foundations of cumulative culture in apes: improved foraging efficiency through relinquishing and combining witnessed behaviours in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) ' , Scientific Reports , vol. 6 , 35953 .
dc.identifier.otherPURE: 246677673
dc.identifier.otherPURE UUID: cd998944-95da-4226-bbbd-2a3d63de4bdb
dc.identifier.otherScopus: 84992341724
dc.identifier.otherWOS: 000386057100001
dc.identifier.otherORCID: /0000-0003-2426-5890/work/65013961
dc.descriptionThis research was funded by the John Templeton Foundation (Grant ID: 40128, to K. Laland and A. Whiten).en
dc.description.abstractA vital prerequisite for cumulative culture, a phenomenon often asserted to be unique to humans, is the ability to modify behaviour and flexibly switch to more productive or efficient alternatives. Here, we first established an inefficient solution to a foraging task in five captive chimpanzee groups (N = 19). Three groups subsequently witnessed a conspecific using an alternative, more efficient, solution. When participants could successfully forage with their established behaviours, most individuals did not switch to this more efficient technique; however, when their foraging method became substantially less efficient, nine chimpanzees with socially-acquired information (four of whom witnessed additional human demonstrations) relinquished their old behaviour in favour of the more efficient one. Only a single chimpanzee in control groups, who had not witnessed a knowledgeable model, discovered this. Individuals who switched were later able to combine components of their two learned techniques to produce a more efficient solution than their extensively used, original foraging method. These results suggest that, although chimpanzees show a considerable degree of conservatism, they also have an ability to combine independent behaviours to produce efficient compound action sequences; one of the foundational abilities (or candidate mechanisms) for human cumulative culture.
dc.relation.ispartofScientific Reportsen
dc.rightsCopyright 2016 the Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit
dc.subjectRC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatryen
dc.subjectQH301 Biologyen
dc.titleFoundations of cumulative culture in apes: improved foraging efficiency through relinquishing and combining witnessed behaviours in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)en
dc.typeJournal articleen
dc.description.versionPublisher PDFen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews.School of Psychology and Neuroscienceen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews.Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciencesen
dc.contributor.institutionUniversity of St Andrews.Centre for Social Learning & Cognitive Evolutionen
dc.description.statusPeer revieweden

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