Stone Tools for Nut-Cracking

Part of the Primatology Monographs book series


Chimpanzees at Bossou are known to have a rudimentary form of lithic technology. They use a pair of stones as hammer and anvil to crack open the hard shell of oilpalm nuts (Elaeis guineensis) to consume the edible kernel within (Fig. 7.1). There are many oil-palm trees in the foothills surrounding the village of Bossou. Nutcracking can be observed throughout the year. Field experiments have clarified many facets of this complex tool-use behavior (Matsuzawa 1994; Biro et al. 2003; Carvalho et al. 2009, see also Chaps. 15–18). This chapter focuses on stone-tool use and summarizes its importance in terms of comparative cognition. The topics covered include laterality, critical learning period, observational learning, possession, culture, planning, meta-tool use, and emergence of lithic technology.


Hand Preference Stone Tool Observational Learning Elaeis Guineensis Young Chimpanzee 
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The present study was financially supported by the following grants: MEXT #16002001, #20002001, JSPS-HOPE, gCOE-A06-D07. I wish to thank all my colleagues, students, and Guinean collaborators who have helped me understand stone-tool use in chimpanzees. I am most grateful to Takao Fushimi, Noriko Inoue-Nakamura, Dora Biro, Claudia Sousa, Misato Hayashi, and Susana Carvalho for all their efforts toward gathering longitudinal data on nut-cracking at Bossou.

Supplementary material

Nut Cracking - Gaku Ohashi and Tatyana Humle (WMV file 13968 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan

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