Abstract # 38:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2005 04:45 PM-05:00 PM: Session 5 (Mayfair Room) Oral Presentation

The Effects of Enculturation on Tool Use by Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

E. E. Furlong, K. Boose, S. Harris and S. T. Boysen
The Ohio State University, 1885 Neil Ave, Department of Psychology, 242 Townshend Hall, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
     Povinelli (2000) conducted twenty-seven tool use tasks that his seven juvenile chimpanzees tended to fail. We have recently failed to replicate the negative findings of the tool use studies conducted by Povinelli with our group of 9 chimpanzees. Whereas Povinelli’s chimpanzees failed most of these tasks, ours were immediately successful. One possible explanation for such differences is enculturation. To replicate one task, Flimsy vs. Rigid tool, nine enculturated chimpanzees had eight opportunities to use flimsy or rigid rakes to attempt to retrieve a food item. Subjects successfully selected the rigid tool (Binomial test, P < 0.05). The same chimps were next presented with hybrid rakes, each half flimsy and half rigid and again were presented with the tools for 8 trials. Food was positioned in front of the rigid side of one and flimsy side of the other. The animals successfully selected the functional rake (Binomial test, P < 0.05). To examine the variable of enculturation further, a group of intermediately-reared chimpanzees was studied (n = 6). This group of partially-enculturated chimps was successful on the first task (Binomial test, P < 0.05) but unsuccessful with the hybrid task (Binomial test, P > 0.05). Thus, Povinelli’s non-enculturated chimps failed both tasks, the intermediately reared chimps passed one task and failed the other and the enculturated chimps passed both tasks. This suggests that enculturation may affect tool use.