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Evidence for a Social Custom in Wild Chimpanzees?

W. C. McGrew and C. E. G. Tutin
Man
New Series, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Jun., 1978), pp. 234-251
DOI: 10.2307/2800247
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2800247
Page Count: 18
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Evidence for a Social Custom in Wild Chimpanzees?
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Abstract

Can the concept of culture be applied validly to any of the natural behaviours exhibited by non-human primates? We compare aspects of social grooming shown by two separate populations of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in western Tanzania. We present as an example a behaviour pattern, the grooming-hand-clasp, which occurs commonly in the chimpanzees of Kasoge but is absent in the chimpanzees of Gombe. After discussing the problems of operationally defining culture, we present eight necessary criteria of culture which are capable of empirical verification: innovation, dissemination, standarisation, durability, diffusion, tradition, non-subsistence, and natural adaptiveness. These are applied to the behavior of wild chimpanzees and Japanese monkeys (Macaca Fuscata). We conclude that no single behaviour pattern yet reported satisfies all eight criteria but that the grooming-hand-clasp should qualify as a social custom.

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