Tool use for corpse cleaning in chimpanzees

Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen, Katherine A. Cronin, Daniel B. M. Haun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


For the first time, chimpanzees have been observed using tools to clean the corpse of a deceased group member. A female chimpanzee sat down at the dead body of a young male, selected a firm stem of grass, and started to intently remove debris from his teeth. This report contributes novel behaviour to the chimpanzee’s ethogram, and highlights how crucial information for reconstructing the evolutionary origins of human mortuary practices may be missed by refraining from developing adequate observation techniques to capture non-human animals’ death responses.
Original languageEnglish
Article number44091
Number of pages4
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2017


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