Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chimpanzees develop specialized tool kits to catch army ants

08.09.2009
Chimpanzees in the Congo have developed specialized "tool kits" to forage for army ants, reveals new research published Sept. 3 in the American Journal of Primatology. This not only provides the first direct evidence of multiple tool use in this context, but suggests that chimpanzees have developed a sustainable way of harvesting food.

A team from the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project, led by Crickette Sanz, Ph.D., assistant professor of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences, studied several communities of chimpanzee throughout the Nouabalé-Ndoki national park in the Republic of Congo.

After spending a collective 111 months in the Goualougo Triangle, the team recovered 1,060 tools and collected 25 video recordings of chimpanzees using them to forage for army ants.

"The use of tool sets is rare and has most often been observed in great apes," said Sanz. "Until now there have been no reports of regular use of more than one type of tool to prey upon army ants."

It is already known that chimpanzees use tools when foraging for honey or collecting termites. However the variation in techniques and the relationship between the ants and the chimpanzees has perplexed scientists for decades.

"In other studies, based across Africa, chimpanzees have been seen to prey on army ants both with and without tools," said Sanz, "and it was inexplicable why some chimpanzees used different techniques to gather the same prey."

The average number of tools recovered by the team at each site was 3.37, while 36% of recovered tools sets contained two types of tools, nest perforating tools and ant-dipping probes. Ant-dipping probes are the most commonly observed method of catching army ants. The chimpanzee inserts a probe into a nest or column of ants and gathers the individuals who stream up the tool. The perforating tools on the other hand are used to open nests so the chimpanzee can gather the ants within.

While the tools sets observed during this study were similar to other recorded tools, this research suggests that chimpanzees are selecting tools depending on the characteristics of the ant species they are foraging. There are several varying species of ants found throughout the triangle, but their characteristics can be divided into two categories, epigaeic or intermediate.

Epigaeic ants have longer legs so can run faster and can inflict a more painful bite. They forage on the ground and in the vegetation and when attacked the workers counter-attack in large swarms. Intermediate species forage only in the leaf litter and withdraw into underground tunnels or into the leaf litter when attacked.

Chimpanzees that harvest ants simply by raking a nest open with their hands cause a massive counter-attack from the ants. This results not only in bites but the attack may provoke the ants to migrate and build a new nest at a different location.

However, by using the perforation tools the chimps can entice the ants out and can allow the insertion of the second tool for dipping. This not only reduces the ant's aggressive behaviour but may also be a sustainable harvesting technique as the ants will stay in that location allowing the chimpanzees to revisit this renewable source of food.

It also appears that chimpanzees practise recycling by recognizing tool forms and re-using tools which have been discarded by other individuals during previous visits.

"It has only recently been discovered that these particular chimpanzees use several different types of tool sets which could be their cultural signature of sorts," said co-author David Morgan. Ph.D., research fellow at Lincoln Park Zoo. "There is an urgency to learn about these behaviours as the existence of the apes in the Congo Basin is threatened by commercial logging, bushmeat hunting, and emerging diseases."

Crickette Sanz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

Further reports about: ant-dipping probes army ants chimpanzees tool kits

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Embryonic development: How do limbs develop from cells?
18.05.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

nachricht Reading histone modifications, an oncoprotein is modified in return
18.05.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>