Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chimps Observed Using Tools To Cut Food Into Smaller Pieces

From BBC News, chimps from the Nimba Mountains of Guinea, Africa were observed using tools to chop up and reduce food into smaller bite-sized pieces.

Kathelijne Koops and William McGrew of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge (UK) with Tetsuro Matsuzawa from Kyoto University, Inundate (Japan) observed this behavior and published it on Primates. They found that these chimps use tools to process Treculia fruits, a large volley ball-shaped fruit that is hard and fibrous.

Wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are renowned for their use of tools in activities ranging from foraging to social interactions. Different populations across Africa vary in their tool use repertoires, giving rise to cultural variation. We report a new type of percussive technology in food processing by chimpanzees in the Nimba Mountains, Guinea: Treculia fracturing. Chimpanzees appear to use stone and wooden “cleavers” as tools, as well as stone outcrop “anvils” as substrate to fracture the large and fibrous fruits of Treculia africana, a rare but prized food source. This newly described form of percussive technology is distinctive, as the apparent aim is not to extract an embedded food item, as is the case in nut cracking, baobab smashing, or pestle pounding, but rather to reduce a large food item to manageably sized pieces. Furthermore, these preliminary data provide the first evidence of chimpanzees using two types of percussive technology for the same purpose.

Do chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) use cleavers and anvils to fracture Treculia africana fruits? Preliminary data on a new form of percussive technology (free abstract).

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