Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Wild chimpanzees rely on cultural knowledge to solve an experimental honey acquisition task

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Thibaud Gruber, Martin N. Muller, Pontus Strimling, Richard Wrangham, Klaus Zuberbuehler

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Population and group-specific behavioral differences have been taken as evidence for animal cultures [1-10], a notion that remains controversial. Skeptics argue that ecological or genetic factors, rather than social learning, provide a more parsimonious explanation [11-14]. Work with captive chimpanzees has addressed this criticism by showing that experimentally created traditions can be transmitted through social learning [15-17]. Recent fieldwork further suggests that ecological and genetic factors are insufficient to explain the behavioral differences seen between communities, but the data are only observational [18, 19]. Here, we present the results of a field experiment [20, 21] that compared the performance of chimpanzees (P. t. schwein-furthii) from two Ugandan communities, Kanyawara and Sonso, on an identical task in the physical domain-extracting honey from holes drilled into horizontal logs. Kanyawara chimpanzees, who occasionally use sticks to acquire honey [4], spontaneously manufactured sticks to extract the experimentally provided honey. In contrast, Sonso chimpanzees, who possess a considerable leaf technology but no food-related stick use [4, 22], relied on their fingers, but some also produced leaf sponges to access the honey. Our results indicate that, when genetic and environmental factors are controlled, wild chimpanzees rely on their cultural knowledge to solve a novel task.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1806-1810
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume19
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - 17 Nov 2009

    Research areas

  • African chimpanzees, Tool use, Transmission, Conventions, Traditions, Predation, Dolphins, Mahale, Debate

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Alarm calling and kinship

    Stephan, C. & Zuberbuhler, K. 30 Oct 2016 (Accepted/In press) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Shackelford, T. K. & Weekes-Shackelford, V. (eds.). Springer

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

  2. Vocal grooming

    Zuberbuehler, K. & Fedurek, P. 10 Sep 2018 Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Shackelford, T. K. & Weekes-Shackelford, V. (eds.). Springer

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

  3. Compositionality in animals and humans

    Townsend, S. W., Engesser, S., Stoll, S., Zuberbühler, K. & Bickel, B. 15 Aug 2018 In : PLoS One. 16, 8, 7 p., e2006425

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Flexible use of simple and combined calls in female Campbell's monkeys

    Coye, C., Ouattara, K., Arlet, M. E., Lemmasson, A. & Zuberbuhler, K. Jul 2018 In : Animal Behaviour. 141, p. 171-181 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Combinatorial capacities in primates

    Zuberbuhler, K. 6 Jun 2018 In : Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 21, p. 161-169 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Related by journal

  1. Bonobos prefer individuals that hinder others over those that help

    Krupenye, C. & Hare, B. 22 Jan 2018 In : Current Biology. 28, 2, p. 280-286 e5

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Chimpanzees consider humans' psychological states when drawing statistical inferences

    Eckert, J., Rakoczy, H., Call, J., Herrmann, E. & Hanus, D. 18 Jun 2018 In : Current Biology. 28, 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Payoff- and sex-biased social learning interact in a wild primate population

    Bono, A. E. J., Whiten, A., van Schaik, C., Krützen, M., Eichenberger, F., Schnider, A. & van de Waal, E. 10 Sep 2018 In : Current Biology. 28, 17, p. 2800-2805.e4

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Population consequences of migratory variability differ between flyways

    Patchett, R., Finch, T. & Cresswell, W. 23 Apr 2018 In : Current Biology. 28, 8, p. R340-R341

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. The role of association in pre-schoolers' solutions to "spoon tests" of future planning

    Dickerson, K. L., Ainge, J. A. & Seed, A. M. 23 Jul 2018 In : Current Biology. 28, 14, p. 2309-2313

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Current Biology (Journal)

    Kate Arnold (Reviewer)
    2007 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Current Biology (Journal)

    Byrne, R. W. (Member of editorial board)
    20052014

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

ID: 17091206