Re: Report: chimps used simple tools 5 million years ago

From: Bill Spight (
Date: Tue May 28 2002 - 15:39:34 BST

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    From: Bill Spight <>
    Subject: Re: Report: chimps used simple tools 5 million years ago
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    Dear Vincent and Ray,

    > <When I brought it up previously I think Wade asked whether perhaps
    > the
    > > chimps had picked it up from humans. It couldn't have been ruled out, but
    > >
    > > the difference in tool size suggested that the chimps at least had the
    > > intelligence to modify something they observed humans doing. Based on
    > > what
    > > CNN is reporting was in the 'Science' article chimpanzees would have had
    > > to
    > > have picked it from 'ardipithecus ramidus' (no I'm not that good. I had to
    > >
    > > look it up.) Perhaps primitive tool use started with the common ancestor
    > > of chimpanzees and humans.>
    > >

    > This is an interesting question, and again one difficult to find out
    > from the fossil/archseological record. If it was possible though, putting
    > cultural transmission back several million years really adds to the cultural
    > evolution argument (a bit like the geological age of the earth gave natural
    > selection plenty of time to work).

    What is a tool? Anything that is used instrumentally, right?

    I suspect that tool use antedates the chimpanzee-human split. On TV a
    few years ago I saw a neat example by a Japanese macaque. Researchers
    had placed a goodie (fruit, I think) inside a large, transparent
    cylinder, so that the macaques could see it but not reach it. One of
    them solved the problem neatly. He picked up a young macaque and stuffed
    him inside the cylinder. When the youngster grabbed the treasure, the
    adult pulled him out and took it away. ;-)



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