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Am J Primatol. 1997;41(1):45-52.

"Stepping-sticks" and "seat-sticks": new types of tools used by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in Sierra Leone.

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Outamba-Kilimi National Park, Sierra Leone, West Africa.


In Tenkere, Sierra Leone, a community of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) spent long hours eating the fruits and flowers of the Kapok (Ceiba pentandra) tree. The branches of this species are covered in sharp thorns which make movement in their high canopies problematic for the chimpanzees. In an apparent attempt to increase their mobility and to ease the discomfort of lengthy bouts of eating in these trees, some of the Tenkere chimpanzees have been observed using stick tools as foot ("stepping-sticks") and body ("seat-sticks") protection against the painful thorns. This form of tool-using is culturally unique to the Tenkere chimpanzees, as at other sites where these apes have been observed eating parts of kapok trees, there are no published records of this tool technology. In three of the stepping-stick tool use incidents, the chimpanzee used the tool(s), held between their greater and lesser toes, in locomotion. This form of tool use is the first recorded case of habitually used tools that can be justifiably categorized as being "worn" by any known wild population of Pan troglodytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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