Semi-wild chimpanzees open hard-shelled fruits differently across communities

Bruce Rawlings, Marina Davila Ross, S. Boysen

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Researchers investigating the evolutionary roots of human culture have turned to comparing behaviours across nonhuman primate communities, with tool-based foraging in particular receiving much attention. This study examined whether natural extractive foraging behaviours other than tool selection differed across nonhuman primate colonies that had the same foods available. Specifically, the behaviours applied to open the hard-shelled fruits of Strychnos spp. were examined in three socially separate, semi-wild colonies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) that lived under shared ecological conditions at Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, and were comparable in their genetic makeup. The chimpanzees (N = 56) consistently applied six techniques to open these fruits. GLMM results revealed differences in the number of combined technique types to open fruits across the colonies. They also showed colony differences in the application of three specific techniques. Two techniques (full biting and fruit cracking) were entirely absent in some colonies. This study provides empirical evidence that natural hard-shelled fruit-opening behaviours are distinct across chimpanzee colonies, differences that most likely have not resulted from ecological and genetic reasons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-899
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number4
Early online date12 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Chimpanzee
  • Extractive foraging
  • Hard-shelled fruits
  • Culture
  • social learning


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