Do Chimps Have Culture?

12:08 minutes

Researchers at Uganda’s Budongo Forest say they’ve spotted the first instance of social learning in wild chimps. Reporting in PLOS Biology, they used a statistical model to show that chimps who saw another chimp use a new water-drinking tool were 15 times more likely to adopt the new tool themselves. Lead author Catherine Hobaiter probes the question: If chimps can learn from one another, could they also have culture?

In the video below, individual KZ (right of the screen) picks a leaf-sponge from the ground while his mother, KW, extracts water from the waterhole. He then chews the used tool before leaf-sponging himself at the waterhole. Video by Catherine Hobaiter:

Segment Guests

Catherine Hobaiter

Catherine Hobaiter is a lecturer in psychology and neuroscience at the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Meet the Producer

About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is a producer for The Journal from Gimlet Media and the Wall Street Journal, and a former co-host and producer of Undiscovered. She also plays the banjo.