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Durham University



Publication details for Dr Zanna Clay

Gruber, Thibaud, Clay, Zanna & Zuberbühler, Klaus (2010). A comparison of bonobo and chimpanzee tool use: evidence for a female bias in the Pan lineage. Animal Behaviour 80(6): 1023-1033.

Author(s) from Durham


Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, are the most sophisticated tool-users among all nonhuman primates. From an evolutionary perspective, it is therefore puzzling that the tool use behaviour of their closest living primate relative, the bonobo, Pan paniscus, has been described as particularly poor. However, only a small number of bonobo groups have been studied in the wild and only over comparably short periods. Here, we show that captive bonobos and chimpanzees are equally diverse tool-users in most contexts. Our observations illustrate that tool use in bonobos can be highly complex and no different from what has been described for chimpanzees. The only major difference in the chimpanzee and bonobo data was that bonobos of all age–sex classes used tools in a play context, a possible manifestation of their neotenous nature. We also found that female bonobos displayed a larger range of tool use behaviours than males, a pattern previously described for chimpanzees but not for other great apes. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the female-biased tool use evolved prior to the split between bonobos and chimpanzees.

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