A group of chimpanzees use stone tools to grind nuts!

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A group of chimpanzees use stone tools to grind nuts!

In the results of a research published in Royal Society Open Scienceresearchers have identified and reproduced in 3D some tools used by chimpanzees to crack nuts. It all started at the beginning of 2022, when a study was carried out on the handling of stone tools by chimpanzees. Researchers have found a rather subtle practice in these animals to find this food. This happened in Côte d’Ivoire, in the Taï forest.

Chimpanzees in the forest

Various families of chimpanzees have long used wooden and stone tools for many purposes. Nevertheless, only certain groups in West Africa use this technique to crack nuts.

Specifically, the researchers have compared the 3D models of the tools used by the chimpanzees of the forest of Taï to those of another group of Guinea. The results show a glaring discrepancy of material culture between the two.

Signatures of a material culture specific to each group

Indeed, these monkeys knew how to make hammer-shaped tools very variable in size. Moreover, we were also able to detect anvils sometimes more than a meter long. Throughout the landscape, one can find traces of use of these materials.

This study clearly reveals the difference in practices among groups of chimpanzees. The results suggest that the use of these tools is a hardware signature specific to each group. In other words, availability, choice of stones and type of nut consumed are responsible for this difference.

The human would have known the same constraint and developed the same technique

Moreover, previous research has shown that these monkeys left their archaeological mark using these stone tools. Tomos Proffitt of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology explains that it dates at least within 4,300 years.

“The ability to identify regional differences in the material culture of stone tools in primates opens up a range of possibilities for future primate archaeological studies.”

It would then be likely that the cracking of nuts was at the origin of more complex techniques during our evolution, 3 million years ago. That implies a broader approach to understanding our evolution. Proffitt, in any case, is convinced by this hypothesis.

By understanding what this simple stone tool technology looks like, and how it varies between groups, we can begin to understand how to better identify this signature in early hominid archaeological records.”


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