The Cultures of Chimpanzees; Amazing Animals; Exclusive Online Issues; by Andrew Whiten and Christophe Boesch; 6 Page(s)
As researchers quietly approach a clearing in the Tai Forest of Ivory Coast, they hear a complex pattern of soft thuds and cracks. It sounds as though a small band of people are busy in the forest, applying some rudimentary technology to a routine task. On entering the clearing, the scientists observe several individuals working keenly at anvils, skillfully wielding wooden hammers. One or two juveniles have apprenticed themselves to the work and-more clumsily and with less success-are struggling to lift the best hammer they can find. All this activity is directed toward cracking rock-hard but nutritious coula nuts. Intermittently, individuals set aside their tools to gather more handfuls of nuts. An infant sits with her mother, gathering morsels of broken nuts.
In many ways, this group could indeed be a family of foraging people. The hammers and anvils they leave behind, some made of stone, would excite the imagination of any anthropologist searching for signs of a primitive civilization. Yet these forest residents are not humans but chimpanzees.