A group of scientists has conducted a study on chimpanzees in order to get deeper insights about how the chimps share skills and develop culture in the wild like humans.
The study was conducted by the researchers at the University of St Andrews, Anglia Ruskin University, University of Neuchatel and Universite du Quebec. They studied how the two novel tool-use behaviors spread among the Sonso chimpanzee community that lived in Budongo Forest of Uganda.
Illustrating upon the need for the study, Dr Catherine Hobaiter from the University of St Andrews, said, the researchers have been for decades fascinated towards the behavioral difference between chimpanzee communities. Why some chimps used tools and some don’t, while some used entirely different one to deliver the same job- all these questions had always sought attention of the scientists.
Hobaiter describes these variations in behavior as “cultural”. In terms of human, being ‘cultural’ connotes spread of learning behavior from one individual to another.
During the study, the researchers examined the spread of variations of leaf-sponges, the tools that are dipped inside water to drink from. These tools were commonly built by the Sonso chimpanzees by just folding the leaves into their mouth.
For the study, the researchers observed different individuals to develop two novel variants, namely moss-sponging that were made up of moss or a leaves-moss mixture and leaf-sponge re-use which were manufactured by a sponge that was left behind on a previous visit.
“The findings of the experiment provided strong proof for social transmission along the chimpanzees,” said Dr William Hoppitt, senior Zoology lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University.
Hoppitt further said that this social network demonstrated that wild chimpanzees learn the use of novel tool from each other.
The findings also backed the assumption that some of the observed behavioral diversity among the wild chimpanzees can be interpreted as ‘cultural.’
The study results also added to the evidence that the prerequisite for culture originated among the common ancestor of great apes and humans much before the coming of modern humans.
The findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS Biology.