CONTACT USSEARCH
the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada - FOR WILDLIFE RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND CONSERVATION

Chimpanzees

About Chimpanzees

Chimp Behaviour

 

Tool Use

 

One of Dr. Goodall’s most important discoveries was that chimpanzees make and use tools, an activity long thought to be exclusive to humans. In 1960, at Gombe National Park, Jane observed two chimps pick up small twigs, strip off the leaves, and use them as tools to fish for termites in the ground, which they then swept into their mouths as a snack.

This was the first time that an animal, other than a human, was observed to modify an object to create a tool, and then use the tool for a specific purpose.

Until that time, scientists had thought that only humans used and made tools; it was considered the defining characteristic that separated us from other animals. Our species was defined as "Man the Tool Maker." When Louis Leakey received an excited telegram from Jane describing her discoveries, he made his now famous response:

 

Eventually it was discovered that the Gombe chimpanzees use objects—stems, twigs, branches, leaves, and rocks—in nine different ways to accomplish tasks associated with feeding, drinking, cleaning themselves, investigating out-of-reach objects, and as weapons. In communities outside Gombe, chimpanzees use objects for different purposes.

Chimps also make sponges by chewing leaves and then dipping them into puddles of water, which they can then drink. They also use sticks and rocks to smash fruits or hard shells. Tools are not only used for feeding however. Adult males, for example, can enhance charging displays by hurling sticks, branches or rocks to intimidate others.

These behaviours, passed from one generation to the next through observational learning, can be regarded as examples of chimp culture.

 

Watch a chimp fishing termites: Watch chimps "sponging":
See video See video