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Chimpanzees use social information to acquire a skill they fail to innovate (advance online)

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Van Leeuwen,  Edwin J. C.       
Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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DeTroy,  Sarah E.       
Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Haun,  Daniel B. M.       
Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Fulltext (public)

Leeuwen_Chimpanzees_NatHumBeh_2024.pdf
(Publisher version), 3MB

Supplementary Material (public)

Leeuwen_Chimpanzees_NatHumBeh_Suppl_2024.pdf
(Supplementary material), 613KB

Citation

Van Leeuwen, E. J. C., DeTroy, S. E., Haun, D. B. M., & Call, J. (2024). Chimpanzees use social information to acquire a skill they fail to innovate (advance online). Nature Human Behaviour. doi:10.1038/s41562-024-01836-5.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000E-A42E-6
Abstract
Cumulative cultural evolution has been claimed to be a uniquely human phenomenon pivotal to the biological success of our species. One plausible condition for cumulative cultural evolution to emerge is individuals’ ability to use social learning to acquire know-how that they cannot easily innovate by themselves. It has been suggested that chimpanzees may be capable of such know-how social learning, but this assertion remains largely untested. Here we show that chimpanzees use social learning to acquire a skill that they failed to independently innovate. By teaching chimpanzees how to solve a sequential task (one chimpanzee in each of the two tested groups, n = 66) and using network-based diffusion analysis, we found that 14 naive chimpanzees learned to operate a puzzle box that they failed to operate during the preceding three months of exposure to all necessary materials. In conjunction, we present evidence for the hypothesis that social learning in chimpanzees is necessary and sufficient to acquire a new, complex skill after the initial innovation.