Chimpanzees use different stone tools to crack different kinds of nuts

(ORDO NEWS) — It has long been known that chimpanzees use a variety of tools in daily life, from long twigs to appropriately sized stones.

Now scientists have found that these animals don’t just mindlessly bash nuts with a stone: they correlate the shape of the stone with the shape of the nut itself to solve this problem most effectively.

Half a century ago, scientists observed how wild chimpanzees use primitive tools, for example, sticking a twig with torn leaves into a termite mound to get nutritious insects, or collecting water in natural wells with a “sponge” of moss.

At the same time, different “cultural traditions” are characteristic of different groups of chimpanzees, and only in West Africa do these monkeys use stone tools to crack nuts.

Now scientists have received evidence that they do not just take the first stone that comes across and beat on a nut, but use different tools to crack different types of nuts.

By scanning and comparing the stone tools of the monkeys of two groups – from Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea – the researchers not only showed that there are noticeable differences between the groups in the shape of the tools they made.

It turned out that Guinean monkeys use stone hammers of various shapes and sizes, as well as very large stone anvils (they are up to a meter in size) to cope with the shells of different types of nuts.

For example, some hammers are pointed and chisel-shaped, while others are flat and heavy, and still others are rounded.

Chimpanzees use flat stones to deal with smaller nuts, and “chisels” break the hard shells of larger ones, judging by the signs of damage on the stones. Rounded hammers seem to play the role of “general purpose tools.”

Chimpanzees use different stone tools to crack different kinds of nuts 2
Researched chimpanzee tools: “working area” outlined in black

By studying chimpanzee tool use, we are one step closer to understanding how our distant ancestors, the Australopithecus , began using tools more than three million years ago.

By understanding how tool-making and tool technology can vary widely among chimpanzee groups, archaeologists will be able to identify similar differences in Australopithecus tools.


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