Abstract # 219:

Scheduled for Saturday, June 20, 2015 08:45 AM-09:45 AM: (Cascade AJBCD) Featured Speaker


D. M. Fragaszy
University of Georgia, Department of Psychology, Athens, GA 30602-3013, USA
     The origins and character of tool use in primates remain veiled in mystery. Nonhuman primates use their hands dexterously, manipulate objects adeptly and are easily trained to use simple hand tools. Yet they rarely use tools in natural settings, and when they do, their activity is structurally simple. Tool use appears in some populations of some species but not in others that seem equally well-equipped for such activity.Tufted capuchin monkeys (Sapajus spp) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are among the rare taxa in which some populations use tools routinely in natural settings. They therefore afford an opportunity to consider how and when a primate discovers how to solve a problem using a tool, how it masters using a tool with skill, and how once solving a problem using a tool is discovered by one individual, others living in the same group come to share the skill. I will use examples drawn from studies with tufted capuchin monkeys, chimpanzees and children to illustrate skills deployed in using tools, characteristics that likely limit tool use in nonhuman primates, and the social and physical contexts that support development of skillful tool use. This body of work illustrates the multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and collaborative character of primatology. We are beginning to tug on the veil obscuring this part of our primate heritage.