Chimpanzees living in central Africa’s dense forests have no access to a hardware store, but that doesn’t stop them from assembling their own brand of toolkits. These apes use as many as five homemade tools in set sequences to obtain honey from beehives located at least 20 meters high in the trees, in fallen tree trunks and up to 1 meter underground, according to two new studies.
Chimps living in Gabon’s Loango National Park modify tree branches of various lengths and widths to make complex tool sets for removing honey from the hives of different bee species, anthropologist Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues report online May 19 in the Journal of Human Evolution. In other parts of Africa, chimps use only one or two tools at a time to obtain honey from hives, crack nuts or hunt small animals.
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