Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

William Hopkins

Second Advisor

Sarah Brosnan

Third Advisor

Charles Menzel


Chimpanzees are proficient tool users and have been shown to use properties of weight and length to select effective tools. Researchers have, however, neglected to investigate whether chimpanzees utilize other tool properties. This study investigated whether chimpanzees use other properties to choose effective tools, how feedback influences their ability to select effective tools, and whether or not chimpanzees are flexible in effective tool selection. Sixty-one chimpanzees, ages 17-52 years, underwent four probing tasks requiring tools of differing physical properties. The results demonstrate that chimpanzees are able to utilize properties of length, surface area, and shape to select effective probing tools. Though exploration of the environment is suggested to facilitate learning and/or performance, it did not have an effect as measured through looking. Together, these results support prior research concerning effective tool selection by chimpanzees, as well as expand current knowledge and understanding of what may underlie effective tool selection.