Journal Mobile Options
Table of Contents
Vol. 78, No. 4, 2007
Issue release date: August 2007
Folia Primatol 2007;78:240–244

Etho-Archaeology of Manual Laterality: Well Digging by Wild Chimpanzees

McGrew W.C. · Marchant L.F. · Hunt K.D.
aLeverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; bDepartment of Anthropology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and cDepartment of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., USA

Individual Users: Register with Karger Login Information

Please create your User ID & Password

Contact Information

I have read the Karger Terms and Conditions and agree.

To view the fulltext, please log in

To view the pdf, please log in


We present the first indirect test of manually lateralized behaviour in non-human primates, based on wells dug for drinking water by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). Apes at Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve, in Uganda, dig bimanually in sandy riverbeds, leaving behind paired piles of excavated sand. The volumes of left- versus right-side piles do not differ, suggesting a lack of behavioural laterality, but this needs to be verified by further, direct observational data.

Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.


  1. Auerbach BM, Ruff CB (2006). Limb bone bilateral asymmetry: variability and commonality among modern humans. Journal of Human Evolution 50: 203–218.
  2. Boesch C (1991). Handedness in wild chimpanzees. International Journal of Primatology 12: 541–588.
  3. Corp N, Byrne RW (2004). Sex differences in chimpanzee handedness. American Journalof Physical Anthropology 123: 62–68.
  4. Hamilton WJ, Buskirk RE, Buskirk WH (1978). Environmental determinants of object manipulation by chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) in two southern African environments. Journal of Human Evolution 7: 205–216.

    External Resources

  5. Hopkins WD, Cantalupo C (2005). Individual and setting differences in the hand preferences of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): a critical analysis and some alternative explanations. Laterality 10: 65–80.

    External Resources

  6. Hopkins WD, Cantalupo C, Freeman H, Russell J, Kachin M, Nelson E (2005). Chimpanzees are right-handed when recording bouts of hand use. Laterality 10: 121–130.
  7. Hunt GR, Corballis MC, Gray RD (2001). Laterality in tool manufacture by crows. Nature 414: 707.
  8. Hunt KD, McGrew WC (2002). Chimpanzees in the dry habitats of Assirik, Senegal, and Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Uganda. In Behavioural Diversity in Chimpanzees and Bonobos (Boesch C, Hohmann G, Marchant LF, eds.), pp 35–51. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  9. Lonsdorf EV, Hopkins WD (2005). Wild chimpanzees show population-level handedness for tool use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 102: 12634–12638.
  10. McGrew WC, Marchant LF (1997). On the other hand: current issues in and meta-analysis of the behavioural laterality of hand function in nonhuman primates. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 40: 201–232.

    External Resources

  11. McGrew WC, Marchant LF (2001). Ethological study of manual laterality in the chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. Behaviour 138: 329–358.
  12. McGrew WC, Baldwin PJ, Marchant LF, Pruetz JD, Scott SE, Tutin CEG (2003). Ethoarchaeology and elementary technology of unhabituated wild chimpanzees at Assirik, Senegal, West Africa. Paleoanthropology 1: 1–20.
  13. McManus C (2002). Right Hand, Left Hand – The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Hands and Cultures. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.
  14. Phillipson L (1997). Edge modification as an indicator of function and handedness of Acheulian handaxes from Kariandusi, Kenya. Lithic Technology 22: 171–183.
  15. Rugg G, Mullane M (2001). Inferring handedness from lithic evidence. Laterality 6: 247–260.
  16. Rutledge R, Hunt GR (2004). Lateralized tool use in wild New Caledonian crows. Animal Behaviour 67: 327–332.

    External Resources

  17. Sarringhaus LA, Stock JT, Marchant LF, McGrew WC (2005). Bilateral asymmetry in the limb bones of the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes).American Journal of Physical Anthropology 128: 840–845.
  18. Sugiyama Y, Fushimi T, Sakura O, Matsuzawa T (1993). Hand preference and tool use in wild chimpanzees. Primates 34: 151–159.
  19. Toth N (1985). Archeological evidence for preferential right-handedness in the lower and middle Pleistocene, and its possible implications. Journal of Human Evolution 14: 607–614.

    External Resources

  20. Weir AAS, Kenward B, Chappell J, Kacelnik A (2004). Lateralization of tool use in New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides). Proceedings of the Royal Society B 271(suppl): 5344–5346.

Pay-per-View Options
Direct payment This item at the regular price: USD 38.00
Payment from account With a Karger Pay-per-View account (down payment USD 150) you profit from a special rate for this and other single items.
This item at the discounted price: USD 26.50