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Sex differences in learning in chimpanzees

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 13 May 2004


The wild chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, fish for termites with flexible tools that they make out of vegetation, inserting them into the termite mound and then extracting and eating the termites that cling to the tool1. Tools may be used in different ways by different chimpanzee communities according to the local chimpanzee culture2. Here we describe the results of a four-year longitudinal field study in which we investigated how this cultural behaviour is learned by the community's offspring. We find that there are distinct sex-based differences, akin to those found in human children, in the way in which young chimpanzees develop their termite-fishing skills.

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Figure 1: Sex differences in wild chimpanzees learning termite-fishing.


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Elizabeth V. Lonsdorf.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Methods

Includes supplementary information on field data collection, videotape analyses and statistical methods. (DOC 24 kb)

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Lonsdorf, E., Eberly, L. & Pusey, A. Sex differences in learning in chimpanzees. Nature 428, 715–716 (2004).

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