Chimpanzees Create Social Traditions
Researchers have revealed that chimpanzees are not only capable of learning from one another, but also use this social information to form and maintain local traditions. A recent study shows that the way in which chimpanzees groom each other depends on the community to which they belong. Specifically, it is the unique handclasp grooming behavior that reveals this local difference.
The specific behavior that the researchers focused on was the ‘grooming handclasp’, a behavior where two chimpanzees clasp onto each other’s arms, raise those arms up in the air, and groom each other with their free arm. This behavior has only been observed in some chimpanzee populations. The question remained whether chimpanzees are instinctively inclined to engage in grooming handclasp behavior, or whether they learn this behavior from each other and pass it on to subsequent generations.