Pestle-Pounding Behavior: The Key to the Coexistence of Humans and Chimpanzees

  • Gen YamakoshiEmail author
Part of the Primatology Monographs book series


Pestle-pounding behavior among chimpanzees was first observed relatively recently and is apparently unique to Bossou. The complex tool-using behavior used to feed on the oil-palm pith and heart consists of two behavioral circuits: petiole feeding and pestle pounding. Bossou chimpanzees exhibit this behavior frequently to obtain otherwise inaccessible but highly prized food resources. Consumption of the oil-palm pith helps these chimpanzees cope with seasonal food shortages. The oil palm is also important to the livelihood of the local people, so it grows in fallow bush in high density. The fallow bush serves as a “traditional buffer zone” to ensure harmonious segregation between people and chimpanzees in a typically agricultural landscape. It is under dispute whether pestle pounding is a recent discovery at Bossou after the 1970s or if the behavior has been overlooked because of its seasonality. It is likely that pestle pounding began from a single innovation at Bossou, based on the regionally established “oil palm cultural complex” of petiole feeding and nest building.


Wild Chimpanzee Sacred Grove Fallback Food Bossou Chimpanzee Heavy Tool 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was financially supported by KAKENHI (Grant-in-Aid for International Scientific Research Program) to Y. Sugiyama (0441066, 07041135), KAKENHI [Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B)] to the author (15710182), KAKENHI [Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (A)] to the author (18681036), KAKENHI [Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A)] to S. Kobayashi (16252004), KAKENHI [Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A)] to M. Ichikawa (17251002), Research Grant from Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Environment Fund (Soil and forests: 2007–) to S. Kobayashi and JSPS-GCOE (E04: In Search of Sustainable Humanosphere in Asia and Africa). I thank la Direction Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique of Republic of Guinea and l’Institut de Recherche Environnementale de Bossou, Republic of Guinea, for their permissions for my research. I am grateful to Drs. Y Sugiyama, T. Matsuzawa, and T. Humle, all my colleagues of the Bossou chimpanzee research project, and the people of the Embassy of Japan in Guinea for their cooperation during my fieldwork.

Supplementary material

Pestle Pounding - Tatyana Humle (WMV file 9590 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Asian and African Area StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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