Half a century of dedicated field research has brought us from ignorance of our closest relatives to the discovery that chimpanzee communities resemble human cultures in possessing suites of local traditions that uniquely identify them. The collaborative effort required to establish this picture parallels the one set up to sequence the chimpanzee genome, and has revealed a complex social inheritance system that complements the genetic picture we are now developing.
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The author was supported by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship. I am grateful to V. Horner, W. C. McGrew, D. Morgan and M. Nakamura for comments on the manuscript, and to S. Smart and J. Allen for image processing.
Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The author declares no competing financial interests.
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