Repository logo

Captive bonobos (Pan paniscus) apply precision grips when using flaked stone tools.

Published version

Published version

Repository DOI

Change log


Cebeiro, Adela 


OBJECTIVES: Current evidence suggests that flaked stone tool technologies did not emerge until ~3.3-2.6 million-years-ago (Ma). It is often hypothesized that early hominin (principally Ardipithecus and early Australopithecus) manual anatomy may have prevented an earlier emergence, as the forceful precision grips essential to flake tool-use may have been ineffectively performed by these species. Marzke, Marchant, McGrew, and Reece (2015) observed potentially forceful pad-to-side precision grips being recruited by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) during feeding behaviors, indicating that Pan-like manual anatomy, and therefore potentially early hominin anatomy, may be capable of effectively securing flake stone tools during their use. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Here, we report on the grips recruited by four captive, human-trained, bonobos (Pan paniscus) during the use of stone and organic tools, including flake stone tools during cutting behaviors. RESULTS: It is revealed that pad-to-side precision grips are frequently recruited by these bonobos when securing stone flakes during cutting actions. In some instances, high forces could have been resisted and applied by the thumb and fingers. DISCUSSION: While our analyzes are preliminary and limited to captive individuals, and Pan is not suggested to secure flakes with the same efficacy as Homo or Australopithecus, it points to early hominins potentially being able to perform the precision grips required to use flake stone tools. In turn, the ability to gain tangible benefits from the effective use of flake tools (i.e., gain energetic returns from processing food resources) may have been - at least anatomically - possible in early Australopithecus and other pre-Early Stone Age hominin species. In turn, hominin manual anatomy may not be a leading restriction on the emergence of the earliest stone tool technologies.



chimpanzee, gripping force, hand, hominin evolution, manual capability, tool use, Humans, Animals, Pan paniscus, Hominidae, Pan troglodytes, Thumb, Hand Strength

Is Part Of