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Chimpanzee culture extends beyond matrilineal family units

Van Leeuwen, E. J. C., Mundry, R., Cronin, K. A., Bodamer, M., & Haun, D. B. (2017). Chimpanzee culture extends beyond matrilineal family units. Current Biology, 27(12), R588-R590. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.05.003.
The ‘grooming handclasp’ is one of the most well-established cultural traditions in chimpanzees. A recent study by Wrangham et al. [1] reduced the cultural scope of grooming-handclasp behavior by showing that grooming-handclasp style convergence is “explained by matrilineal relationship rather than conformity” [1]. Given that we previously reported cultural differences in grooming-handclasp style preferences in captive chimpanzees [2], we tested the alternative view posed by Wrangham et al. [1] in the chimpanzee populations that our original results were based on. Using the same outcome variable as Wrangham et al. [1] — the proportion of high-arm grooming featuring palm-to-palm clasping — we found that matrilineal relationships explained neither within-group homogeneity nor between-group heterogeneity, thereby corroborating our original conclusion that grooming-handclasp behavior can represent a group-level cultural tradition in chimpanzees.
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