Primate archaeology reveals cultural transmission in wild chimpanzees

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Luncz, Lydia V.; Wittig, Roman M.; Boesch, Christophe
Year of Publication: 2015
Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume: 370
Issue: 1682
Date Published: 10/2015
Publication Language: eng

Recovering evidence of past human activities enables us to recreate behaviour where direct observations are missing. Here, we apply archaeological methods to further investigate cultural transmission processes in percussive tool use among neighbouring chimpanzee communities in the Taï National Park, Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa. Differences in the selection of nut-cracking tools between neighbouring groups are maintained over time, despite frequent female transfer, which leads to persistent cultural diversity between chimpanzee groups. Through the recovery of used tools in the suggested natal territory of immigrants, we have been able to reconstruct the tool material selection of females prior to migration. In combination with direct observations of tool selection of local residents and immigrants after migration, we uncovered temporal changes in tool selection for immigrating females. After controlling for ecological differences between territories of immigrants and residents our data suggest that immigrants abandoned their previous tool preference and adopted the pattern of their new community, despite previous personal proficiency of the same foraging task. Our study adds to the growing body of knowledge on the importance of conformist tendencies in animals.

DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0348
Short Title: Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci