Science!: Ants and Monkeys

Lauren Admire | 28 Dec 2009 21:00

Chimp Master the Cleaver

Well, chimps are just not ceasing to amaze lately, are they? Not only are they unafraid of fire, show a developed use of syntax in their language, but now they've also mastered the basic cleaver. Chimps in the Nimba Mountains of the West African nation of Guinea have been found to be using stone and wooden cleavers to chop fruit.

PhD student Kathelijne Koops and Professor William McGrew of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge have been studying these Nimba chimps for quite some time. "Chimpanzees across Africa vary greatly in the types of tools they use to obtain food," says Koops."Some groups use stones as hammers and anvils to crack open nuts, whereas others use twigs to fish for termites."

Treculia fruits are the size of volleyballs and thus must be broken down in order to eat. They're too big for a chimp to get its jaws around, so the chimps use stone wooden cleavers to process the fruit into more manageable sizes. This is the first account of chimps using a pounding tool to break down larger foods, and "it's the first time wild chimpanzees have been found to use two distinctive types of percussive technology, i.e. movable cleavers versus a non-movable anvil, to achieve the same goal," Koops further explained.

Interestingly, other chimps that are nearby to the Nimba chimps do not process their food in the same way, which suggests that this behavior is culturally learned and passed down through generations.

Source: BBC


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