Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Photos Reveal First Tool Usage In Wild Gorillas

Date:
October 3, 2005
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
For the first time ever, scientists have observed and photographed wild gorillas using tools, in one instance employing a stick to test the depth of a pool before wading into it, according to a study by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other organizations. Up to this point, all other species of great apes, including chimpanzees and orangutans, have been observed using tools in the wild, but never gorillas.

Female Leah first looked at the new elephant pool and the branch she later used as the walking stick, and entered the water without the tool (not shown). After re-entering the pool and taking the branch with her right hand, she walked bipedally 8–10 m into the water, frequently testing water deepness. (From: Breuer T, Ndoundou-Hockemba M, Fishlock V (2005) First Observation of Tool Use in Wild Gorillas. PLoS Biol 3(11): e380)

For the first time ever, scientists have observed and photographedwild gorillas using tools, in one instance employing a stick to testthe depth of a pool before wading into it, according to a study by theBronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and otherorganizations. Up to this point, all other species of great apes,including chimpanzeesand orangutans, have been observed using tools in the wild, but nevergorillas.

"This is a truly astounding discovery," said Thomas Breuer of theWildlife Conservation Society. "Tool usage in wild apes provides uswith valuable insights into the evolution of our own species and theabilities of other species. Seeing it for the first time in gorillas isimportant on many different levels."

According to the study published in the open access journalPLoS Biology, on two separate occasions in the northern rain forests ofthe Republic of Congo, researchers observed and photographed individualwestern gorillas using sticks as tools. The observations were made inMbeli Bai--a swampy clearing located in Nouabalé-NdokiNational Park where monitoring has been ongoing since February 1995.The first instance occurred when a female gorilla nicknamed Leah byscientists attempted to wade through a pool of water created byelephants, but found herself waist deep after only a few steps.Climbing out of the pool, Leah then retrieved a straight branch from anearby dead tree and used it to test the depth of the water. Keepingher upper body above water, she moved some 10 meters out into the poolbefore returning to shore and her wailing infant.

Then another female gorilla named Efi used a detached trunkto support herself with one hand while digging for herbs with theother. As she moved from location to location, she used the stick forone last job, a bridge over a muddy patch of ground.

In the past, gorillas have been observed using tools in zoos,but not in the wild. And, while most other observed instances oftool-usage in great apes are related directly to processing food (i.e.the cracking of nuts with rocks or extracting termites with longsticks), these two examples of using tools for postural support weretriggered by other environmental factors.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has been studying gorillasand other wildlife in the Republic of Congo since the 1980s. In 1993,the Congolese Government, working in tandem with technical assistancefrom WCS, establishedNouabalé-Ndoki National Park. The Mbeli Bai site is being managed to meet long-term gorilla research and ecotourism objectives.

"These protected areas are not only important for theconservation of species they contain, they also hold the key tocomparing our own development as a species with our next of kin," addedBreuer. "Places likeNouabalé-Ndoki, and the nearby Goualougo Triangle, are places where we see the process unfolding before our very eyes."

An exclusive look at this scientific discovery, includingnever-before-seen photographs and interviews in Africa with the fieldscientists who observed and documented the behavior for the first time,will be broadcast as the lead segment in the launch episode of "WildChronicles," a brand new series airing nationally on PBS stationsbeginning October 1, 2005 (check local listings). Hosted by BoydMatson, the weekly, half-hour, science and nature adventure TV serieswill be presented nationally by PBS member station WLIW New York.

###

The Mbeli study appears in PLoS Biology, a peer-reviewed, highlycited journal published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), anon-profit organization committed to the goals of open access, makingscientific and medical literature a public resource. This study isimmediately available online at http://www.plosbiology.orgwithout cost to anyone, anywhere to read, download, redistribute,include in databases, and otherwise use--subject only to the conditionthat the authors and source are properly cited.

Citation: Breuer T, Ndoundou-Hockemba M, Fishlock V (2005) Firstobservation of tool use in wild gorillas. PLoS Biol 3(11): e380.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Photos Reveal First Tool Usage In Wild Gorillas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051003081045.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2005, October 3). Photos Reveal First Tool Usage In Wild Gorillas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051003081045.htm
Public Library of Science. "Photos Reveal First Tool Usage In Wild Gorillas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051003081045.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) — The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins