A Novel Food Processing Technique by a Wild Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)Sawyer S.C. · Robbins M.M.
Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
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Innovation, the invention of new behavior, has been observed in wild primates only infrequently. The processing of thistle (Cardus nyassanus) has previously been described as being one of the most complex food processing techniques used by mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). We report a case of innovation in thistle leaf processing by a subadult female mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. This technique involved rolling the thistle leaves into a ball between her palms prior to putting them in her mouth, as opposed to the standard method of folding leaves. All other weaned individuals (n = 13) were observed to use the standard method to process thistle leaves as described in Byrne et al. While the subadult female emigrated out of the research group 6 months after she had first been observed using the innovative technique, preventing observations of possible transmission within the group, it adds to the debate of whether food processing techniques used by gorillas are socially learned or not.
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