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Keywords:

  • chimpanzee;
  • tool use;
  • ant-fishing;
  • innovation;
  • tool modification;
  • Bossou

Abstract

Wild chimpanzees are known to have a different repertoire of tool use unique to each community. For example, “ant-dipping” is a tool use behavior known in several chimpanzee communities across Africa targeted at driver ants (Dorylus spp.) on the ground, whereas “ant-fishing,” which is aimed at carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) in trees, has primarily been observed among the chimpanzees of Mahale in Tanzania. Although the evidence for differences between field sites is accumulating, we have little knowledge on how these tool use behaviors appear at each site and on how these are modified over time. This study reports two“ant-fishing” sessions which occurred 2 years apart by a young male chimpanzee at Bossou, Guinea. Ant-fishing had never been observed before in this community over the past 27 years. During the first session, at the age of 5, he employed wands of similar length when ant-fishing in trees to those used for ant-dipping on the ground, which is a customary tool use behavior of this community. Two years later, at the age of 7, his tools for ant-fishing were shorter and more suitable for capturing carpenter ants. This observation is a rare example of innovation in the wild and does provide insights into problem-solving and learning processes in chimpanzees. Am. J. Primatol. 70:699–702, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.