Washington, Jan 10 : It's not just humans who have cultural differences, for a new study has suggested that socially learned cultural behaviour is also found among chimpanzees colonies.
The study, led by Primatologist Dr Stephen Lycett, stated that the apes build their 'cultures' in a similar way to humans.
"We knew there were behavioural differences between chimpanzee colonies, but nobody really knew why. It was assumed that young chimpanzees developed certain behavioural characteristics from the genes passed down from their parents, but there was no evidence to clearly support this. It was also thought that because behaviour was dictated by biology, chimpanzees did not have a 'culture' in the same way that humans do," Lycett said.
After looking at how chimpanzees prepare their food, the researchers discovered that one colony used stone tools to crack nuts, whereas another colony used wooden tools as well as stone.
The finding suggests that behavioural variety is due to how chimpanzees socialise rather than genetics as previously thought.
For investigating the theory further, the research team built an evolutionary tree of chimpanzee behaviour in East and West Africa as well as a genetic family tree.
Researchers found that some chimpanzees shared behavioural similarities with those that were genetically different from them.
Lycett said: "This explains why some colonies, for example, use similar methods for finding food, adopting certain behaviour and adapting different methods to suit their own environment. In this sense we can see for the first time that culture exists in our closest relatives."
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.