The 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2019)

Revisiting the savanna chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) as a referential model for hominin origins: Issa, Tanzania as a case study


1Anthropology, Miami University, 2School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University

March 28, 2019 , CC Ballroom BC Add to calendar

Nearly six decades have passed since field work on savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) began. Research in west and east Africa revealed these chimpanzees live at lower densities in more open habitats, have larger community ranges, and experience greater seasonality coupled with lower annual rainfall. These attributes led some anthropologists to use these apes as a referential model for the LCA (Moore, 1996; Marchant and McGrew, 2005). New technologies such as GIS, PAM (Passive Acoustic Monitoring), camera traps, weather stations, drones, Landsat and DigitalGlobe satellite imagery have expanded the quality and quantity of research findings and sharpened our understanding of the adaptive flexibility of savanna chimpanzees. In 2008 a permanent research presence was established at the field site of Issa, Tanzania (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) to further document savanna chimpanzees living in the mosaic habitat of the Greater Mahale Ecosystem Research and Conservation region, GMERC (Stewart et al., 2018). This site has yielded new ethoarchaeological evidence (Hernandez-Aguilar, 2009) and made a persuasive case for niche construction using nest sites, and nest site reuse (Stewart et al., 2011). Results from Issa, and other savanna chimpanzee research sites, continue to strengthen the argument for the value of these apes as a referential model in our efforts to reveal early hominin adaptations.