Liberia 1906 Chimpanzee Stamp – First Documentation of an Ape digging for Termites using Tool?
In 2001, two scientists reported in "Nature" magazine that the Liberian postage stamp from 1906 might be the first documentation of digging for termites by a chimpanzee meaning that Jane Goodall's discovery of a chimpanzee digging using tool was not the first.
Here is the stamp. Note the black color shifting to the right:
As a response, Ulrich Kattmann discovered the original drawing that have served as model for the Liberian stamp by the artist Gustav Mützel (1839–1893). Mützel signed the chimpanzee picture, adding the note "n. d. Leben" to show that his drawing was from his own observation of a living ape's behavior, not from a pelt, photograph or other illustration.
The figure shows the female chimpanzee Mafuka from Gabon, who lived in the early 1870's in Dresden zoo where Mützel drew her. Mafuka and other zoo apes learnt to use tools without any instruction. In Mützel's picture the ape is probably using a stick to explore a knot-hole in the trunk of a tree. But the natural-looking environment is added from the illustrator's imagination. There is no termite mound in the picture, so Jane Goodall remains the first person to document wild chimpanzees 'fishing' with tools for termites.
Stamp reissued overprinted: