Send to

Choose Destination
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013 Oct 7;368(1630):20120416. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0416. Print 2013 Nov 19.

Ecological and social correlates of chimpanzee tool use.

Author information

Department of Anthropology, Washington University, , 1 Brookings Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63130, USA.


The emergence of technology has been suggested to coincide with scarcity of staple resources that led to innovations in the form of tool-assisted strategies to diversify or augment typical diets. We examined seasonal patterns of several types of tool use exhibited by a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) population residing in central Africa, to determine whether their technical skills provided access to fallback resources when preferred food items were scarce. Chimpanzees in the Goualougo Triangle exhibit a diverse repertoire of tool behaviours, many of which are exhibited throughout the year. Further, they have developed specific tool sets to overcome the issues of accessibility to particular food items. Our conclusion is that these chimpanzees use a sophisticated tool technology to cope with seasonal changes in relative food abundance and gain access to high-quality foods. Subgroup sizes were smaller in tool using contexts than other foraging contexts, suggesting that the size of the social group may not be as important in promoting complex tool traditions as the frequency and type of social interactions. Further, reports from other populations and species showed that tool use may occur more often in response to ecological opportunities and relative profitability of foraging techniques than scarcity of resources.


Pan troglodytes troglodytes; limited invention; necessity; opportunity; relative profitability; tool use

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center