0601 GMT March 25, 2019
Many of the gorilla's abilities are thought to be socially acquired, including food cleaning behavior. But during a series of tests, researchers found gorillas cleaned sand from a dirty apple 75 percent of the time, UPI wrote.
Damien Neadle, a researcher at the University of Birmingham, said, "In four of our five gorillas, at least one of the techniques for cleaning was similar to that observed in the wild.
“Given that these two groups are culturally unconnected, it suggested that social learning is not required for this behavior to emerge."
Scientists suggest their findings — published in the journal PLoS One — don't diminish the importance of social learning among apes. It simply proves gorillas can also develop talents and skills not their own.
Neadle said, "Here, we argue that individual learning is responsible for the form of the behavior, whilst social learning possibly contributes to its frequency.”
Intrinsic learning and social learning aren't mutually exclusive. Gorillas can learn the same skill in different ways. It's likely that much of what gorillas and other apes learn is acquired through a combination of learning processes, researchers said.
Neadle said, "Rather than being a binary consideration of either cultural learning or not, behaviors like food cleaning, which can be propagated by shared learning but are also capable of being learnt spontaneously by individuals, could be deemed to be 'soft culture.”