Much like people, chimpanzees are inveterate conformists whose copycat tendencies enable them to develop cultural traditions, a new study suggests.
Andrew Whiten of the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, and his colleagues trained a high-ranking female in each of two chimpanzee groups to use a stick to release a food pellet from a ramp in a rectangular box.
One animal learned how to push the stick through an opening and against a block inside the box, knocking the food off the ramp so that it could roll out through a chute. The other chimp learned to manipulate the stick to lift a hook that moved the block and allowed the food to roll into the chute.
Each dominant female was then returne