Research on Chimpanzees in the Wild
What can modern chimpanzees reveal to us about early human prehistory and evolution? There is no precise modern analog for our early tool-making ancestors. We have changed remarkably over the past few million years, and modern apes have likewise undergone evolutionary change in that period. Although early tool-making ancestors were not like modern humans or modern apes, they were much closer to the common ape-human ancestor in terms of evolutionary time and also were quite close to our African ape heritage in terms of such features as brain, body size, and aspects of their anatomy.
Modern chimpanzees can yield valuable information in terms of their locomotion, feeding behaviors, ecology, and so on, that can yield important insights into the origins of bipedal walking and tool-use in our prehistoric past. Stone Age Institute researcher Kevin Hunt has engaged in a variety of studies investigating such areas as chimpanzee posture, feeding behaviors, and tool-use, in order to develop models for the early evolution of bipedal, tool-wielding hominids. He has conducted chimpanzee research in Uganda and Tanzania.