Tool Use by Chimpanzees

Better Essays
The Pan troglodytes, also known as the common chimpanzees, are the first animals to be observed in not only the utilization of tools but also manufacturing their own tools. Primatologist Jane Goodall was sent to the then British protectorate of Tanganyika to study chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve by Dr. Louis Leakey. In 1960, while studying the chimpanzee in the reserve Goodall observed a chimpanzee using grass to fish for termites in a termite mound. Shortly after her observation, she noticed the chimpanzees in the reserve making their own tools by removing the leaves from a twig to insert into the termite nests. This was the first time that an animal was discovered manufacturing his or her own tool. (Quammen, 110-112)
Development of Tool Use
In an article penned by Ann Minard for National Geographic News, she explains the once held theory that chimpanzees in the wild learned tool usage from humans is no longer valid. It was once thought modern chimpanzees developed tool usage by imitating farmers. New evidence suggests that chimpanzees have been using stones to crack nuts as far back as 4,300 years ago. (Minard, 1) When chimpanzee archeological sites were found in 2007 in West Africa, archeologist Julio Mercader along with primatologist Christophe Boesch observed the rocks used today by the chimpanzees in West Africa, the only chimpanzees to use rocks to open nuts, resemble those found at the prehistoric sites. (Bower, 24) Tool usage among wild chimpanzees may be dependant on the culture of each group. In Guinea, the size of the stick used by a chimpanzee to harvest ants depends on the type of ants. For ants that are more aggressive the sticks employed were twice as long as others to avoid being bi...

... middle of paper ...

...e Tools At Hand: Manual Laterality And
Elementary Technology in Cebus Spp. And Pan Spp." International Journal Of
Primatology 18.5 (1997): 787-810. Academic Search Premier. 8 Nov. 2013
Minard, Ann. "Chimp "Stone Age" Finds Are Earliest Nonhuman Ape Tools, Study Says."
National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 13 Feb. 2007. Web. 8 Nov. 2013.
Quammen, David. "Jane, Fifty Years at Gombe." National Geographic 218.4 (2010): p110-129,


Sanz, C, Morgan, D, and Gulick, S 2004, 'New insights into chimpanzees, tools, and termites from the Congo Basin." The American Naturalist 5 (2004): 567-581. Academic OneFile.
Pdf. 8 Nov. 2013.
Vaidyanathan, Gayathri. "Apes in Africa: The Cultured Chimpanzees." Nature 476.7360
(2011): 266. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 8 Nov. 2013
Get Access