, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 175–178 | Cite as

Do chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) use cleavers and anvils to fracture Treculia africana fruits? Preliminary data on a new form of percussive technology

  • Kathelijne KoopsEmail author
  • William C. McGrew
  • Tetsuro Matsuzawa
Short Communication


Wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are renowned for their use of tools in activities ranging from foraging to social interactions. Different populations across Africa vary in their tool use repertoires, giving rise to cultural variation. We report a new type of percussive technology in food processing by chimpanzees in the Nimba Mountains, Guinea: Treculia fracturing. Chimpanzees appear to use stone and wooden “cleavers” as tools, as well as stone outcrop “anvils” as substrate to fracture the large and fibrous fruits of Treculia africana, a rare but prized food source. This newly described form of percussive technology is distinctive, as the apparent aim is not to extract an embedded food item, as is the case in nut cracking, baobab smashing, or pestle pounding, but rather to reduce a large food item to manageably sized pieces. Furthermore, these preliminary data provide the first evidence of chimpanzees using two types of percussive technology for the same purpose.


Tool use Percussive technology Chimpanzee Material culture 



We thank the DNRST in Guinea for research authorization and Kassié Doré, Fromo Doré, Fokeyé Zogbila, and Paquilé Cherif for support in the field. We thank S. Carvalho, S. Koski, T. Humle, Y. Möbius, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. This research was supported by MEXT (#12002009, #16002001, #20002001) and JSPS-ITP-HOPE grants to T. Matsuzawa and by grants from Gates Cambridge Trust, St. John’s College, Lucie Burgers Foundation, Schure-Beijerinck-Popping Foundation and the International Primatological Society to K. Koops.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathelijne Koops
    • 1
    Email author
  • William C. McGrew
    • 1
  • Tetsuro Matsuzawa
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological Anthropology, Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary StudiesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan

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