Travel fosters tool use in wild chimpanzees
Ecological variation influences the appearance and maintenance of tool use in animals, either due to necessity or opportunity, but little is known about the relative importance of these two factors. Here, we combined long-term behavioural data on feeding and travelling with six years of field experiments in a wild chimpanzee community. In the experiments, subjects engaged with natural logs, which contained energetically valuable honey that was only accessible through tool use. Engagement with the experiment was highest after periods of low fruit availability involving more travel between food patches, while instances of actual tool-using were significantly influenced by prior travel effort only. Additionally, combining data from the main chimpanzee study communities across Africa supported this result, insofar as groups with larger travel efforts had larger tool repertoires. Travel thus appears to foster tool use in wild chimpanzees and may also have been a driving force in early hominin technological evolution.