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Behav Processes. 2004 Jan 30;65(1):87-93.

Tool-use and tool-making by captive, group-living orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus abelii) at an artificial termite mound.

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Laboratory of Ethological Studies, Faculty of Human Sciences, Osaka University, Suita, Japan.


The present study examined the use and making of tools to obtain foodstuffs in artificial-mound holes by five captive, group-living Sumatran orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus abelii). Three adult orangutans frequently stripped leaves and twigs from a branch provided (tool-making), and then inserted the tool into a hole to obtain foodstuffs (tool-using). A 5-year-old female juvenile usually used the tools that adult orangutans had previously used, but rarely made tools herself. A 2-year-old male infant did not use any tools. The adult orangutans tend to leave one to several leaves at the top of the branch than to leave many leaves on the branch or to strip all leaves. It seemed likely that tools with appropriate leaves are easier to insert into holes and obtain more foodstuffs, compared with branches with many leaves or sticks without any leaves. When the orangutans were unable to insert a tool into a hole, they usually modified the tool and/or changed their tool-using technique, such as changing how they grasped the tool. These findings are discussed from the perspectives of the orangutan's behavioral flexibility regarding tool-use skills and hierarchical organization in food-processing techniques.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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