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Researchers identify a variety of chimpanzee stone tools for cracking different types of nuts

Female chimpanzee cracking Panda oleosa nuts with a granodiorite hammerstone on a wooden (panda tree root) anvil. Credit: © Liran Samuni, Taï Chimpanzee Project

During fieldwork aimed at documenting the stone tool use of a group of wild chimpanzees in the Taï Forest in Côte d’Ivoire in early 2022, the researchers identified and 3D scanned a variety of stone tools used to crack different types of nuts. Their study is now published in Royal Society Open Science.

It has long been shown that different chimpanzee groups have different cultures for using wood and stone tools; however, only a few groups in West Africa use stone tools to crack open nuts. By comparing the 3D models of various stone tools used by chimpanzees in the Taï forest with those of another group in Guinea, the researchers showed that there are notable differences between the two groups in terms of their material properties. culture.

The research shows that this particular group of chimpanzees in Guinea uses stone hammers that vary in stone type and size, and very large stone anvils, sometimes over a meter in length. These durable stone tools are widespread in the landscape; they retain varying levels of damage associated with their use and represent an enduring record of chimpanzee behavior.

Stone tools used for cracking nuts can vary by chimpanzee group

This study highlights the fact that although different groups of chimpanzees crack nuts, the tools they use can differ significantly from each other, potentially leading to group-specific material features. These differences are caused by a combination of stone choice, stone availability and the type of nut eaten.

Chimpanzee stone tool diversity

Examples of chimpanzee hammerstones from Djouroutou, Ivory Coast; illustrating their textured surface, three-dimensional surface, surface depth and surface gradient. Credit: © Tomos Proffitt

Previous research has shown that through the use of stone tools, some groups of chimpanzees are developing their own archaeological records dating back at least 4,300 years. “The ability to identify regional differences in the material culture of stone tools in primates opens up a range of possibilities for future primate archaeological research,” said Tomos Proffitt of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, who led the study.

The hypothesis is that a simple technology, such as nut cracking, was a precursor to more complex rock technologies during the early stages of our own evolution, more than three million years ago. Proffitt continues, “By understanding what this simple stone tool technology looks like and how it varies between groups, we can begin to understand how to better identify this signature in the earliest archaeological record of hominids.”


Chimpanzees haven’t entered the Stone Age yet


More information:
Identifying functional and regional differences in chimpanzee stone tool technology, Royal Society Open Science (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.220826. royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.220826

Provided by Max Planck Society

Quote: Researchers identify a variety of chimpanzee stone tools for cracking different types of nuts (2022, September 20) Retrieved September 20, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-variety-chimpanzee-stone-tools -nut.html

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