Chimpanzee Tool Kits

The Discovery Channel website has an interesting story on chimpanzee tool kits :

For this latest study, however, Boesch and colleagues Josephine Head and Martha Robbins observed chimpanzees at Loango National Park on the coast of Gabon, Africa. They identified at least five different types of chimp-made honey extraction tools used in sequence.

The tools consist of pounders, enlargers, collectors, perforators and swabbers. Chimps, suspended in acrobatic positions on branches, might first pull out a thick stick pounder to break open beehive entrances. They then reach for another stick, the enlarger, to perforate and widen different honeybee hive compartments. Next comes the collector, used to dip or scoop out honey.

Different tools and methods are needed to obtain underground bee honey. The chimps wield a perforator to penetrate the ground, locate a honey chamber and dig into the soil. They then pull off strips of bark to “dip and spoon the honey out of the opened beehive.”

Obtaining honey from an underground hive isn’t easy. Aside from dealing with angry, stinging bees, the chimps must dig narrow sideways tunnels, maintain perfect aim and prevent soil from falling into, and ruining, their desired sweet reward.

Apparently, the study (being published in the Journal of Human Evolution) also compares chimp toolkits with those “stone age human techologies.”

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