The fourth dimension of tool use: temporally enduring artefacts aid primates learning to use tools.
Fragaszy DM., Biro D., Eshchar Y., Humle T., Izar P., Resende B., Visalberghi E.
All investigated cases of habitual tool use in wild chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys include youngsters encountering durable artefacts, most often in a supportive social context. We propose that enduring artefacts associated with tool use, such as previously used tools, partly processed food items and residual material from previous activity, aid non-human primates to learn to use tools, and to develop expertise in their use, thus contributing to traditional technologies in non-humans. Therefore, social contributions to tool use can be considered as situated in the three dimensions of Euclidean space, and in the fourth dimension of time. This notion expands the contribution of social context to learning a skill beyond the immediate presence of a model nearby. We provide examples supporting this hypothesis from wild bearded capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees, and suggest avenues for future research.