Advertisement

Ant-Dipping: How Ants Have Shed Light on Culture

  • Tatyana Humle
Part of the Primatology Monographs book series

Abstract

Ant-dipping is a tool-use behavior targeted at biting and gregarious army ants (Dorylus spp.). Although several wild chimpanzee communities exhibit this behavior, some do not, although army ants are ubiquitous across Africa. This tool-use behavior is often cited as one of the best examples of culture in chimpanzees. Nevertheless, recent data emerging from Bossou in southeastern Guinea and detailed entomological analysis of the army ant species available at different chimpanzee study sites, as well as direct observations of this behavior, indicate that the aggressiveness and the density of the ant species influence tool length and the technique employed to consume the ants off the tool. Behavioral differences persist, however, between the communities of Taï, Côte d’Ivoire, and Bossou, where the same species of army ants are consumed by the chimpanzees. A comparative study indicates that these variations in ant-dipping between these two long-term field sites cannot solely be explained on the basis of prey behavior, characteristics, and availability and must therefore be cultural. A longitudinal study of the acquisition of ant-dipping among the chimpanzees of Bossou supports this assertion by revealing the importance of social influences and the role of the mother in the learning process of young chimpanzees. Finally, studies of ant-dipping, especially at Bossou, have demonstrated a narrow interrelationship between ecology, social learning, and culture.

Keywords

Learning Opportunity Wild Chimpanzee Chimpanzee Community Tool Length Young Chimpanzee 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I wish to thank the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique, in particular the Direction Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (DNRST) and the Institut de Recherche Environnementale de Bossou (IREB), for granting me the permission to carry out research at Bossou. I am particularly grateful to Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Charles Snowdon, and William McGrew for their advice and support, and to Caspar Schöning, Kathelijne Koops, Gaku Ohashi, Gen Yamakoshi, Yasmin Möbius, Christophe Boesch, and all the local assistants at Bossou for their invaluable contributions and collaboration. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, Japan (nos. 07102010, 12002009, and 10CE2005 to T. Matsuzawa), a Leakey Foundation Grant, and an NIH Kirschstein-NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship (no. MH068906-01) to T.H.

Supplementary material

Ant dipping - Gaku Ohashi_1(WMV file 8356 kb)

Ant dipping - Tatyana Humle_2 (MPG file 8252 kb)

Ant dipping - Tatyana Humle_3 (MPG file 9478 kb)

References

  1. Boesch C (1996a) The emergence of cultures among wild chimpanzees. Proc Br Acad 88:251–268Google Scholar
  2. Boesch C (1996b) Three approaches for assessing chimpanzee culture. In: Russon AE, Bard KA, Parker ST (eds) Reaching into thought. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 404–429Google Scholar
  3. Boesch C, Boesch H (1990) Tool use and tool making in wild chimpanzees. Folia Primatol 54:86–99PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Collins DA, McGrew WC (1987) Termite fauna related to differences in tool-use between groups of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Primates 28:457–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goodall J (1986) The chimpanzees of Gombe: patterns of behavior. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Hashimoto C, Furuichi T, Tashiro Y (2000) Ant dipping and meat eating by wild chimpanzees in the Kalinzu forest, Uganda. Primates 41:103–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Humle T (2006) Ant dipping in chimpanzees: an example of how microecological variables, tool use, and culture reflect the cognitive abilities of chimpanzees. In: Matsuzawa T, Tomonaga M, Tanaka M (eds) Cognitive development in chimpanzees. Springer, Tokyo, pp 452–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Humle T, Matsuzawa T (2002) Ant dipping among the chimpanzees of Bossou, Guinea, and comparisons with other sites. Am J Primatol 58:133–148PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Humle T, Snowdon CT, Matsuzawa T (2009) Social influences on the acquisition of ant-dipping among the wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) of Bossou, Guinea, West Africa. Anim Cogn. DOI:  10.1007/s10071-009-0272-6 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Inoue-Nakamura N, Matsuzawa T (1997) Development of stone tool use by wild chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). J Comp Psychol 111:159–173PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lonsdorf EV (2005) Sex differences in the development of termite-fishing skills in the wild chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii, of Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Anim Behav 70:673–683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Matsuzawa T, Biro D, Humle T, Inoue-Nakamura N, Tonooka R, Yamakoshi G (2001) Emergence of culture in wild chimpanzees: education by master-apprenticeship. In: Matsuzawa T (ed) Primate origins of human cognition and behavior. Springer, Tokyo, pp 557–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McGrew WC (1974) Tool use by wild chimpanzees in feeding upon driver ants. J Hum Evol 3:501–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. McGrew WC (1992) Chimpanzee material culture: implications for human evolution. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. McGrew WC, Collins DA (1985) Tool use by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) to obtain termites (Macrotermes herus) in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. Am J Primatol 9:47–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Möbius Y, Schöning C, Koops K, Matsuzawa T, Boesch C, Humle T (2008) Comparative study of chimpanzee predation on army ants between Bossou, Guinea and Taï, Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa: is ant-dipping cultural? Anim Behav 76:37–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schöning C, Humle T, Möbius Y, McGrew WC (2008) The nature of culture: technological variation in chimpanzee predation on army ants. J Hum Evol 55(1):48–59PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sugiyama Y (1995b) Tool-use for catching ants by chimpanzees at Bossu and Monts-Nimba, West-Africa. Primates 36:193–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. van Schaik CP, Ancrenaz M, Borgen G, Galdikas B, Knott CD, Singleton I, Suzuki A, Utami SS, Merrill M (2003) Orangutan cultures and the evolution of material culture. Science 299:102–105PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Whiten A, Goodall J, McGrew WC, Nishida T, Reynolds V, Sugiyama Y, Tutin CEG, Wrangham RW, Boesch C (1999) Cultures in chimpanzees. Nature 399:682–685PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Whiten A, Goodall J, McGrew WC, Nishida T, Reynolds V, Sugiyama Y, Tutin CEG, Wrangham R, Boesch C (2001) Charting cultural variation in chimpanzees. Behaviour 138:1481–1516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Yamakoshi G (2001) Ecology of tool use in wild chimpanzees: toward reconstruction of early hominid evolution. In: Matsuzawa T (ed) Primate origins of human cognition and behavior. Springer, Tokyo, pp 537–556Google Scholar
  23. Yamakoshi G, Myowa-Yamakoshi M (2004) New observations of ant-dipping techniques in wild chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea. Primates 45:25–32PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Anthropology and ConservationUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

Personalised recommendations