Subtle behavioral variation in wild chimpanzees, with special reference to Imanishi’s concept of kaluchua
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- Nakamura, M. & Nishida, T. Primates (2006) 47: 35. doi:10.1007/s10329-005-0142-z
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Here we consider the concept of kaluchua (a word adopted from the English “culture”) in group-living animals developed by Imanishi in the 1950s. He distinguished it from bunka (the Japanese equivalent to the English “culture”) because he thought that bunka had strong connotations of noble and intellectual human-like activities. Although he did not rigidly define kaluchua, his original concept of kaluchua was much broader than bunka and represented non-hereditary, acquired behavior that was acknowledged socially. However, instead of social life, complex feeding skills have often formed the central topic in the current studies of animal culture. In order to provide evidence that more subtle behavioral variations exist among wild chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) populations, we directly compared the behaviors of two well-habituated chimpanzee groups, at Bossou and Mahale. During a 2-month stay at Bossou, M.N. (the first author) saw several behavioral patterns that were absent or rare at Mahale. Two of them, “mutual genital touch” and “heel tap” were probably customary for mature females and for mature males, respectively. “Index to palm” and “sputter” are still open to question. These subtle patterns occurred more often than tool use during the study period, suggesting that rarity is not the main reason for their being ignored. Unlike tool use, some cultural behavioral patterns do not seem to require complex skills or intellectual processes, and sometimes it is hard to explain the existence of such behaviors only in terms of function.