Chimpanzees are part of the non-human primate group. Though we share a common ancestor, evolution has pushed us in different directions. However this common ancestor causes humans to be curious about these creatures. As discussed in Jane Goodall’s video Among the Wild Chimpanzees we were once considered to be human because of our use of tools but once we observed these non-human primates using tools, this perception was changed forever. The question now at hand is if having the chimpanzees that we study in captivity makes a difference between studying wild chimps. These interesting creatures can be found naturally in the rainforests of Africa.
Development of tool use:
“Tool use is rare in animals, and the chimpanzees stand out as the most proficient tool users besides humans” (Boesh, Boesch-Achermann18). Some debate has taken place between researchers regarding how these chimpanzees learn to use these tools and whether or not there is a difference between wild chimps and captive chimp’s tool use. Some theories say that chimps do not actively teach or are taught, but rather learn by observation, trial, and error; as stated in the article Thinking Like a Chimpanzee by Jon Cohen. This article also suggests that some reaserchers do believe that chimps do poses the capability to be taught and understand what they are learning.
Chimps use tools in numerous ways to retrieve food. These include stone tools for the cracking of nuts and thin twigs for termite fishing as discussed in both the articles Mommy Training by Nick Atkins and Tool Use in Wild Chimpanzees: New Light From Dark Forests by Hedwige Boesch-Achermann and Christophe Boesch. Both of these articles discusss the use of tool use among chimpanzees.
“In 1960 Jane Goodall watched a chimpanzee strip the leaves off a twig and then insert it into a termite mound to "fish" for termites. Her observation was the first time anyone documented seeing a nonhuman animal manufacture a tool in the wild. Termite fishing remains a favorite pastime among chimpanzees, because termites are a preferred source of protein for these apes. In Gombe National Park, Tanzania, all chimpanzees learn to fish for termites by age five and a half” (Atkins25). This excerpt from the article Mommy Training talks about how one of the most influential chimpanzee researcher’s observes chimpanzee tool use for the first time. What makes this twig specifically a tool is the fact that the chimp manipulated its original form for a certain purpose. Since chimps are able to do this the line between human and non-human primates has been blurred.
The second instance of tool use is the use of stone tools to crack open nuts. “To crack nuts, chimps set up a stone anvil, place a nut on it and then smash it with a second stone used as a hammer” (Cohen). According to the article Tool Use in Wild Chimpanzees: New Light From Dark Forest by Hedwige Boesch-Achermann and Christophe Boesch chimpanzees in the wild...