RESOURCES: Apes Go Multicultural

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Science  19 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5580, pp. 307
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5580.307b

The clever chimps inhabiting the Taï forest of the Ivory Coast invented a nutcracker. They position a nut on a stone anvil and bash it with a stick or rock. Across the continent at the famous Gombe National Park in Tanzania, the apes haven't figured out the anvil trick, but they do know how to use crumpled leaves to sop up tasty ants.

Like people, chimps show cultural diversity and local traditions. The new Web site Chimpanzee Cultures documents these regional differences in behavior, drawing on research by Jane Goodall and other top primatologists. One of the site's databases allows you to check which of 65 geographically variable behaviors are present at 11 long-term study sites in central and western Africa. The other, still-growing database includes literature citations and photos or movies. They capture, for example, chimps winkling ants from a nest with a stem of grass and pelting a nosy primatologist with stones.

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