Our closest cousins in nature, chimpanzees have become less mysterious as a new study shows how the primates develop culture amongst their species.
The University of St. Andrews, Universite du Quebec, Anglia Ruskin University, and University of Neuchatel had their scientists gathered together examined the world of chimpanzees and discovered some amazing details. The focus brought to light the differences of different chimp troupes. How each one had its own uniqueness. These differences are considered cultural and are part of the sharing and leaning process of each chimp family, some behaviors having been passed down for many years.
The scientists also examined the use of leaf sponges. These leaves are used to dip into water and drink from by the chimps. This practice is common in the chimpanzee group known as the Sonso who make these leaves by folding them in their mouths. Other types of sponge leaf or sponge plant combinations were also observed from different chimpanzee groups.
This study can be found in the open access journal PLOS Biology.
The evidence so far shows that these special and unique traits per group of chimps means that tool use and unique application are indeed cultural and that this all may have begun millions of years ago with the common ancestor of humans and chimps. This study opens the door to more insight to the development of both cultures in chimps and in humans. How human culture and civilization emerged over the millenia and what we might expect in the future. Learning from one another and sharing that information allows for a greater chance of survival for the species via the group. When one group overruns another or melds with another, those learned behaviors are now expanded. Much like how when in the distant past one human found out how to tie a knot, shared that, and it became a part of all cultures.
The scientists of this study were fortunate to e able to observe these chimps in their natural habitat at the right time. Chimps can be very temperamental and violent. Getting in on the inside like these scientists have, has gleaned so much data that we can see how it applies to theories and practicals regarding primates. Hopefully more studies like this are going to be done.