[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
To do a job right, you need the right tools. Even a chimp knows that. According to a study in the American Journal of Primatology, chimps in the Congo use multiple tools to capture army ants.
You’ve probably seen footage of chimps using sticks to harvest honey or trap termites. But when it comes to collecting ants, the apes are all over the place—sometimes using tools, other times going in barehanded. To investigate these different techniques, a research team spent almost 10 years in the Congo, filming chimpanzees and collecting more than 1000 ant-fishing tools. And they found that the nastier the ant, the more likely the ape is to pick up a stick.
Chimps that tear open a nest with their hands risk getting bitten, and driving the insects away. Instead, many chimps use a series of tools: one to poke a hole in the nest, and another to dip in to gather a few tasty specimens. They even pick up tools left behind by other chimps.
Now, would an infinite number of chimpanzees using an infinite number of tools produce a Louis-the-Fourteenth-style table and chairs? It’s doubtful. But they’d probably catch an infinite number of ants.