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Like humans, chimpanzees have a tendency to learn from one another. Recently, chimpanzees have begun showing just how true the "monkey see, monkey do" phrase really is at the Zambia Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust sanctuary.
Julie, an inhabitant at the sanctuary, began to simply stick a piece of grass in her ear for no apparent reason in 2010. After studying almost 700 hours of footage of Julie performing the action, researchers found that other chimps in the same enclosure began to follow Julie's actions and place a piece of grass into their ears as well.
"This reflects chimpanzees' proclivity to actively investigate and learn from group members' behaviors in order to obtain biologically relevant information," lead researcher Edwin van Leeuwen said in a statement to Delhi Daily News. Interest arose in researchers as they attempted to discover if the behavior was an example of social learning or something else.
The study focused on 94 different chimpanzees that resided in four different "social" groups. One of the four groups appeared to regularly copy Julie's actions. The trend seemed to become more popular after one of Julie's sons, Jack, first began to copy her, reports Design & Trend. Even after Julie passed away, other chimpanzees continued the actions.
"The fact that these behaviors can be arbitrary and outlast the originator speaks to the cultural potential of chimpanzees," van Leeuwen concluded in his statement.