Genius bonobo chimp creates stone tools like early hominids

Aug 23, 2012
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Genius bonobo chimp creates stone tools like early hominids

You may not be familiar with the word bonobo, but I'd wager most of us know what a chimpanzee is. A bonobo is a member of the chimpanzee family and was previously called the dwarf or gracile chimpanzee. Confusion on the name aside, a genius bonobo named Kanzi has begun making his own stone tools similar to tools early humans made.

Researcher Eviatar Nevo from the University of Haifa in Israel and colleagues have been presenting Kanzi with problems that the animal has solved. Kanzi is a 30-year-old male bonobo chimp, and he has made some sophisticated and interesting solutions to problems presented to him. The researchers gave Kanzi food sealed inside of a log that mimics bone marrow inside of a long bone.

Another male companion chip studied was also presented with the same problem. The second chimp tried to retrieve the faux marrow from inside the log a handful of times and eventually resorted to smashing the log on the ground. Kanzi on the other hand took a longer and more sophisticated approach.

He inserted sticks into the seams on the log to try to split it, threw projectiles that it, and used stone flints, choppers, drills, and scrapers. Kanzi's sophisticated approach allowed him to get food out of 24 logs while his not as intelligent companion only managed to get food out of two logs. According to the researchers, the most remarkable thing about the tools Kanzi created was their resemblance to the tools created by early hominids. It's worth noting that researchers have previously taught both chimps to knap flint flakes. However, Kanzi's companion was unable to put his tool-making prowess to use in retrieving the food from log.

[via New Scientist]


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