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

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Tue May 28 2002 - 23:49:06 BST

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Report: chimps used simple tools 5 million years ago
    Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 18:49:06 -0400
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    >From: Bill Spight <>
    >Subject: Re: Report: chimps used simple tools 5 million years ago
    >Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 07:39:34 -0700
    >Dear Vincent and Ray,
    > > <When I brought it up previously I think Wade asked whether
    > > the
    > > > chimps had picked it up from humans. It couldn't have been ruled out,
    > > >
    > > > 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
    > > > 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
    > > > of chimpanzees and humans.>
    > > >
    > > This is an interesting question, and again one difficult to find
    > > from the fossil/archseological record. If it was possible though,
    > > cultural transmission back several million years really adds to the
    > > evolution argument (a bit like the geological age of the earth gave
    > > 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. ;-)
    An alternative to two tool using species diverging from a tool using
    ancestor is that they could have diverged phylogentically from an ancestor
    that didn't use tools, but each having a reasonably developed level of
    "primate intelligence" (hand-waving alarm activated) may have independently
    converged upon tool use. Perhaps the common ancestor shared by humans and
    other chimps was a tool user, but the common ancestor with macaques (vis a
    vis humans or other chimp species) did not use tools and macaques developed
    their own sort of tool use (if they do indeed use tools...I'm NOT a
    primatologist) within their own ecological milieu independent of the
    putatively homologous tool usage of humans and other chimps.

    Then OTOH maybe humans and the other chimps acquired the skill of "tool
    usage" (note imprecision here) independently and the common ancestor didn't
    use tools.

    Maybe the common ancestor of humans and other chimps used tools and the
    branches upon which humans eventually emerged retained this skill, where the
    branches leading to modern chimps had lost this skill with modern chimps
    eventually acquiring their own form of "tool usage" or facsimile of crude
    implement manipulation along the way, independent of humans and beyond their
    chimp forebears.

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