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

McGrew W.C.a, b · Marchant L.F.b · Hunt K.D.c
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 Folia Primatol 2007;78:240–244 (DOI:10.1159/000102319)


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.


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