Pestle-pounding behavior of wild chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea: A newly observed tool-using behavior

Abstract

A new type of tool-using behavior was observed in a group of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Bossou, Guinea. The chimpanzees used the leaf-petiole of oil-palm trees (Elaeis guineensis) as a pounding tool to deepen a hole in the oil-palm crown which appeared after the chimpanzees had pulled out the central young shoots. Finally, the chimpanzees extracted and ate the apical meristem or apical bud of the oil-palm tree which is edible but inaccessible without such tool use. The motor pattern which the chimpanzees employed is similar to that used for termite-nest digging but it is more exaggerated and requires great force. The behavior is reminiscent of pestlepounding. The chimpanzees exploit substantial amounts of food with this tool-using skill, compensating for insufficient fruit foods in the primary forest. This tool-using behavior was first observed in 1990 and, to date, almost half of the group members have been confirmed to use the pestle tool. It appears that this tool-using behavior was invented recently and has since spread widely throughout the group as a habitual one.

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Yamakoshi, G., Sugiyama, Y. Pestle-pounding behavior of wild chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea: A newly observed tool-using behavior. Primates 36, 489–500 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02382871

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Key Words

  • Chimpanzees
  • Pestle-pounding
  • Oil-palm
  • Tool use
  • Nutritional compensation