Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chimpanzees Develop 'Specialized Tool Kits' To Catch Army Ants

Date:
September 3, 2009
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Chimpanzees in the Congo have developed specialized "tool kits" to forage for army ants, providing some of the first recorded evidence of multiple tools.

New research reveals that chimpanzees in the Congo have developed specialised 'tool kits' to forage for army ants.
Credit: Sanz/Morgan, Goualougo Triangle Ape Project, Republic of Congo

Chimpanzees in the Congo have developed specialised 'tool kits' to forage for army ants, reveals new research published today 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 Dr Crickette Sanz, studied several communities of chimpanzee throughout the Nouabalι-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 recognising 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," concluded co-author Dr. David Morgan. "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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sanz, C.; Schoning, C.; Morgan, D. Chimpanzees Prey on Army Ants with Specialized Tools. American Journal of Primatology, 2009; DOI: 10.1002/ajp.20744

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Chimpanzees Develop 'Specialized Tool Kits' To Catch Army Ants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902195249.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2009, September 3). Chimpanzees Develop 'Specialized Tool Kits' To Catch Army Ants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902195249.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Chimpanzees Develop 'Specialized Tool Kits' To Catch Army Ants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902195249.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
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