To improve our understanding of the evolutionary origins of culture and technology in humans, it is vital that we document the full extent of behavioural diversity in our great ape relatives. About half of the world’s remaining chimpanzees (Pan spp.) live in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), yet until now we have known almost nothing about their behaviour. Here we describe the insect-related tool technology of Bili-Uéré chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) inhabiting an area of at least a 50,000-km2 area in northern DRC, as well as their percussive technology associated with food processing. Over a 12-year period, we documented chimpanzee tools and artefacts at 20 survey areas and gathered data on dung, feeding remains and sleeping nests. We describe a new chimpanzee tool kit: long probes used to harvest epigaeic driver ants (Dorylus spp.), short probes used to extract ponerine ants and the arboreal nests of stingless bees, wands to dip for D. kohli and stout digging sticks used to access underground meliponine bee nests. Epigaeic Dorylus tools were significantly longer than the other tool types, and D. kohli tools were significantly thinner. Tools classified as terrestrial honey-digging sticks were a significant predictor for brushed and blunted tool ends, consistent with their presumed use. We describe two potential new tool types, an “ant scoop” and a “fruit hammer.” We document an extensive percussive technology used to process termite mounds of Cubitermes sp. and Thoracotermes macrothorax and hard-shelled fruits such as Strychnos, along with evidence of the pounding open of African giant snails and tortoises. We encountered some geographic variation in behaviour: we found honey-digging tools, long driver ant probes and fruit-pounding sites only to the north of the Uele River; there were more epigaeic Dorylus tools to the north and more ponerine ant tools to the south. We found no evidence of termite-fishing, despite the availability of Macrotermes muelleri mounds throughout the region. This lack of evidence is consistent with the results of dung washes, which revealed a substantial proportion of driver ants, but no evidence of Macrotermes or other termites. Our results allow us to describe a new chimpanzee behavioural complex, characterised by a general similarity of multiple behaviours across a large, ecologically diverse region but with subtle differences in prey choice and techniques. We propose that this widespread and related suite of behaviours be referred to as the Bili-Uéré Chimpanzee Behavioural Realm. Possible explanations for this pattern are a recent chimpanzee expansion across the region and the interconnectedness of this population across at least the entirety of northern DRC.

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