Recognizing Culture in Wild Primate Tool Use
Cultural differences between animal groups offer a means of tracing social relationships and cognition through time and across space. Where behaviours include tool use, we can observe the influence of available materials and role models on the development of tool-based activities. Here, we discuss the ways that we can study the social influence of tool-use behaviour in wild primates, focusing on two species that use durable stone tools: bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) and Western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus). We concentrate on durable tools, as these provide an archaeologically recoverable record of activities. However, we also consider the influence of less durable tools when examining behavioural patterns in capuchins and chimpanzees. In order to study abstract concepts like culture and cognition, we identify socially learned behavioural diversity that is not influenced by environmental circumstances. This diversity, when compared among social units, allows us to detect cultural differences. Our bottom-up approach identifies some of the opportunities and challenges in studying social cognition through tool use in wild-ranging primates.
KeywordsSocial learning Stone tools Chimpanzee Capuchin Primate archaeology
This work was supported by the European Research Council grant #283959 (Primate Archaeology) and São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) grant #2014/18364-1.
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