Differences in the way various communities of chimpanzees eat, dance and court are "cultural" and down to what they have learned from fellow chimps, according to the new work.
The research showed that chimpanzee role models influence their culture. Historically, scientists believed that differences in behaviour between communities of chimpanzees were due to variations in genetics.
More recently, there has been debate about whether they copy each other or instead figure out how to do something desirable themselves.
Now scientists have discovered that variations in behaviour in the cultures, such as Masonic-style handshakes, are down to having a chimpanzee role model. . .
This is significant, says Prof Whiten, because imitation is more likely to produce a community of apes that all do a job the same way than is emulation. It will thus preserve features of ape culture more faithfully.
"...or rather, emulation, of who best can work and best agree."