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The spread of a novel behavior in wild chimpanzees: New insights into the ape cultural mind.

Authors
  • Gruber, Thibaud
  • Poisot, Timothée
  • Zuberbühler, Klaus
  • Hoppitt, William
  • Hobaiter, Catherine
Type
Published Article
Journal
Communicative & Integrative Biology
Publisher
Landes Bioscience
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2015
Volume
8
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1080/19420889.2015.1017164
PMID: 26479151
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

For years, the animal culture debate has been dominated by the puzzling absence of direct evidence for social transmission of behavioral innovations in the flagship species of animal culture, the common chimpanzee. Although social learning of novel behaviors has been documented in captivity, critics argue that these findings lack ecological validity and therefore may not be relevant for understanding the evolution of culture. For the wild, it is possible that group-specific behavioral differences emerge because group members respond individually to unspecified environmental differences, rather than learning from each other. In a recent paper, we used social network analyses in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) to provide direct evidence for social transmission of a behavioral innovation, moss-sponging, to extract water from a tree hole. Here, we discuss the implications of our findings and how our new methodological approach could help future studies of social learning and culture in wild apes.

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