Chimpanzees make tools and use them to procure foods and for social exhibitions; they have refined hunting tactics requiring collaboration, influence and rank; they are status cognizant, calculating and capable of trickery; they can learn to use symbols and understand facets of human language including some interpersonal composition, concepts of number and numerical sequence and they are proficient in spontaneous preparation for a future state or event.
Tool-use is regularly reported in chimpanzees. They use many different tools to carry out many different tasks. They use sticks to fish for insects, stones and wood to crack open nuts, leaves to soak up liquid, and branches used as weapons to dominate opponents and frighten off predators. In making tools, they may use a variety of different materials to make the same kind of tool. For example, they use sticks, twigs, bark, and vines to fish for termites. They also may use the same material for different purposes. A leaf could be used as a termite probe, a napkin, or a sponge.
There are contrasts in tool kits used by different groups of chimpanzees, which seem to be a result of the environment in which they live as well as information that is shared by the group. For example, in 1973 it was reported that chimpanzees in Gombe did not use hammer stones, but those of Cape Palmas did. We will explore the tool use of Chimpanzees from the wild, including Gombe, Tai National Forest, and the Congo Basin---and contrast those with Chimpanzees in captivity in locations of Zoo’s both in the United States and abroad.
Development of Tool Use:
While most tools reportedly used by chimpanzees have involved extraction of food, such as with termites and nuts, or throwing rocks in order to knock their prey lifeless, one in the West African savannah have been observed making wooden spears and using them to hunt small animals.
According to Jane Goodall, her revelation came when she first observed Chimpanzees and their development of their useful tools. Goodall first observed a male chimpanzee leaning over a beautiful golden mound of a termite camp and the chimpanzee using a long blade of grass to fish out the termites and consume them. That revelation in and of itself demolished the theory at the time that only human beings were capable of developing tools. The chimpanzee did not hastily just pick up the huge blade of grass and begin fishing for the termites, but picked it and then shaped it, cleaning the leaves from it, and intelligently tweaked it for its intended use, to capture the termite which was ultimately in the chimpanzee’s scheduled diet. Hunger in the wild and in captivity is a very strong motivating factor for tool use.
This fact made it rather apparent that chimpanzees and humans must have inherited “tool use” from a common ancestor before evolution had divided us some 6 million years ago. Suddenly we as humans and our cousins seemed much closer than originally thought. All because of the revelation of...