Researchers studying chimpanzees in the wild has recently captured first-time footage of a mother chimpanzee teaching its offspring how to use tools. The video offered new insights regarding the means of how chimps passed on information to their young.
In the footage, the mother is seen coaching its offspring how to use "fishing probes" to scoop out termites inside mounds. Interestingly enough, the researchers observed the mother either bringing multiple tools or snapping her own probe length-wise and giving it to her young.
Specific Tools For Gathering Food
The mother chimp's behavior shows intelligence in addressing a problem for the lesser-skilled without hindering her own means of gathering food, reported the Daily Mail. "Wild chimpanzees are exceptional tool users, but in contrast to humans, there has been little evidence to date that adult chimpanzees teach youngsters tool skills," said Stephanie Musgrave, the study's first author and an anthropology graduate student in Arts & Sciences.
Aside from teaching her offspring how to gather food, the researchers also noted that the mother chimp chose a specific kind of tool. She opted for a probe that came from a particular herb species with a brush-like tip.
Footage Gives Insight To The Origins Of Teaching
The footage was taken at the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo, according to Newswise. Those who were involved in the study said that the research shed light regarding the origins of passing knowledge to others when a particular problem proves too challenging for an individual.
"It is easy for us to take for granted the importance of sharing information to learn complex skills, as it is ubiquitous in humans,' said Crickette Sanz, associate professor of biological anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University and co-author of the study. This behaviour also provides insights about chimps and how they teach their young.
For humans, teaching revolves around an individual's understanding and the motive behind such action. This study, on the other hand, showed that the mother chimp both anticipated its young's need for a tool and came up with quick solution to the problem.
"Identifying teaching among wild animals is difficult because one has to quantify the impact of possible teaching behaviours on both the teacher and the learner,' Musgrave said. "Using video footage from remote camera traps placed at termite nests in the chimpanzees' home range, we were able to observe and quantify how sharing tools affected those who relinquished their tools as well as those who received them."