PerspectiveEvolution

Chimpanzee Technology

Science  30 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5978, pp. 579-580
DOI: 10.1126/science.1187921

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Summary

Almost 50 years ago, Jane Goodall watched an adult male chimpanzee in the Gombe Stream Reserve, Tanzania, make and use a blade of grass to “fish” termites from a mound for food (1). Her mentor, Louis Leakey, declared, “Now we must redefine ‘tool,’ redefine ‘man,’ or accept chimpanzees as humans!” (2). Today, we know that various vertebrates in nature have elementary technology, but chimpanzees across Africa continue to astonish us with their technical abilities. Recent findings have further blurred the boundaries between what we consider to be human versus nonhuman by showing that chimpanzees can use and combine tools in complex sequences and combinations.