First observation of tool use in wild gorillas


Breuer T, Ndoundou-Hockemba M & Fishlock V (2005) First observation of tool use in wild gorillas. PLoS Biology, 3 (11), pp. 2041-2043, Art. No.: e380.

Descriptions of novel tool use by great apes in response to different circumstances aids us in understanding the factors favoring the evolution of tool use in humans. This paper documents what we believe to be the first two observations of tool use in wild western gorillas(Gorilla gorilla). We first observed an adult female gorilla using a branch as a walking stick to test water deepness and to aid in her attempt to cross a pool of water at Mbeli Bai, a swampy forest clearing in northern Congo. In the second case we saw another adult female using a detached trunk from a small shrub as a stabilizer during food processing. She then used the trunk as a self-made bridge to cross a deep patch of swamp. In contrast to information from other great apes, which mostly show tool use in the context of food extraction, our observations show that in gorillas other factors such as habitat type can stimulate the use of tools.

PLoS Biology: Volume 3, Issue 11

Publication date01/10/2005
Publication date online01/10/2005
Date accepted by journal09/09/2005
PublisherPublic Library of Science