Bonobos Use A Range Of Tools Like Stone-Age Humans - Dream Health

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Wednesday 15 July 2015

Bonobos Use A Range Of Tools Like Stone-Age Humans


Captive Bonobos Used Tools to Crack Open Log/Extract Food

Bonobos could be just as handy as chimpanzees and their tool using abilities tends to look a lot similar to those of early humans indicating that witnessing them could teach anthropologists on how our very own ancestors developed such skills. Till now they have been more prominent with their free and easy life rather than their skills with tools.

They have not been seen in using tools though some of the wild populations have been researched due to political instability in Democratic Republic of the Congo where they tend to live. According to Itai Roffman of Haifa University in Israel together with his colleagues, regarding those captive, he observed a captive bonobo named Kanzi.

His observation was that he used stone tools to crack open a log and extract food. However, it was a possibility that Kanzi could be a lone genius, raised by humans who taught his sign language and also shown how to use the tools. To know if the other captive bonobos shared the same aptitude as Kanzi, Roffman’s team observed animals at a zoo in Germany and a bonobos sanctuary in Iowa.

Series of Problems Involving the Use of Tools – To Solutions

The team provided them with a series of problems which involved the use of tools to solve them. For instance, showing the bonobos that food was buried under rocks and then leaving a tray of potential aids like sticks and antlers nearby.

Two from the eight zoo animals together with four out of seven in the sanctuary utilised the tools, in some cases almost instantly. The Bonobos used sticks and antlers for digging as well as long stick as levers to move huge rocks out of the way while some used different tools in order.In another mission, three of the sanctuary animals used rocks as hammers to crash long bones and uncover food hidden in the marrow cavity.

Another cracked them neatly open lengthwise, a technique previously presumed to be unique to human descent. One bonobos even went to the extent of sharpening the stick with its teeth to fashion a spear, something which chimpanzees tend to do for hunting bush-babies and then thrust it at Roffman presuming him to be an intruder.

Bonobos – Potential of Using Wide Variety of Tools

Research indicates that bonobos have the potential of using a wide variety of tools which places them at par with chimps according to Roffman. Their hunting techniques are similar to those used by the earlier Stone Age humans of the Oldowan culture.

Roffman states that `when they are given the raw materials, they tend to use them in correct and context specific strategies’. Though captive bonobos unlike their wild counterparts have sufficient time to experiment, states Francesco d’Errico of the University of Bordeaux in France. Actions of the captive animal could bear some resemblance to what took place in the wild.

 However, d’Errico states that it shows the potential is there and the skill may come or go as needed. He suspects that once researches get to study bonobos in the southern area of their range, where the food seems to be hard to get, they may find that the use of tool would be common. If the use of tool in great apes could be older than we imagined, we could go back at least 5 million years to the common ancestor of chimps, bonobos as well as human.

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