Stone tool transport leaves long-lasting behavioural evidence in the landscape. However, it remains unknown how large-scale patterns of stone distribution emerge through undirected, short-term transport behaviours. One of the longest studied groups of stone-tool-using primates are the chimpanzees of the Taï National Park in Ivory Coast, West Africa. Using hammerstones left behind at chimpanzee Panda nut-cracking sites, we tested for a distance-decay effect, in which the weight of material decreases with increasing distance from raw material sources. We found that this effect exists over a range of more than 2 km, despite the fact that observed, short-term tool transport does not appear to involve deliberate movements away from raw material sources. Tools from the millennia-old Noulo site in the Taï forest fit the same pattern. The fact that chimpanzees show both complex short-term behavioural planning, and yet produce a landscape-wide pattern over the long term, raises the question of whether similar processes operate within other stone-tool-using primates, including hominins. Where hominin landscapes have discrete material sources, a distance-decay effect, and increasing use of stone materials away from sources, the Taï chimpanzees provide a relevant analogy for understanding the formation of those landscapes.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3588710.
- Received July 18, 2016.
- Accepted November 15, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.