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Chimpanzee culture extends beyond matrilineal family units

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle



Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen, Roger Mundry, Katherine A. Cronin, Mark Bodamer, Daniel B. M. Haun

School/Research organisations


The “grooming handclasp” (GHC) is one of the most well-established cultural traditions in chimpanzees. A recent study by Wrangham et al. [1] reduced the cultural scope of GHC behavior by showing that GHC-style convergence is “explained by matrilineal relationship rather than conformity” [1]. Given that we have previously reported cultural differences in GHC-style preferences in captive chimpanzees [2], we tested Wrangham et al. [1]’s alternative view in the chimpanzee populations that our original results were based on. Using the same outcome variable as Wrangham et al. [1] – proportion high-arm grooming featuring palm-to-palm clasping (PPC) – we found that matrilineal relationships neither explained within-group homogeneity nor between-group heterogeneity, thereby corroborating our original conclusion that GHC can represent a group-level cultural tradition in chimpanzees.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R588-R590
Number of pages3
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number12
Early online date19 Jun 2017
StateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2017

    Research areas

  • Chimpanzees, Culture, Social learning

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