Tool use for corpse cleaning in chimpanzees

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: van Leeuwen, Edwin J. C.; Cronin, Katherine A.; Haun, Daniel B. M.
Year of Publication: 2017
Journal: Scientific Reports
Volume: 7
Pagination: 44091 -
Date Published: 2017/03/13
Publication Language: eng

For the first time, chimpanzees have been observed using tools to clean the corpse of a deceased group member. A female chimpanzee sat down at the dead body of a young male, selected a firm stem of grass, and started to intently remove debris from his teeth. This report contributes novel behaviour to the chimpanzee’s ethogram, and highlights how crucial information for reconstructing the evolutionary origins of human mortuary practices may be missed by refraining from developing adequate observation techniques to capture non-human animals’ death responses.