Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Monkey Blogging: Capuchin Monkeys Choose The Right Tool For The Nut

Click for larger image.

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I have started a regularly recurring blog entry meme every Friday afternoon, inspired by Bruce Schneier's regular series of "Friday Squid Blogging" posts, and my very own maddening Monkey Theory.

Here is this week's installment.

Via Monkeys in The News.

Wild capuchin monkeys don’t thoughtlessly grab any handy piece of stone to crack open hard-shelled nuts at snack time. These slender, agile primates select the best tool for the job, a new study finds.

Much like people, capuchins translate past experiences into action, say primatologist Elisabetta Visalberghi of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies in Rome and her colleagues. These monkeys draw on a reservoir of knowledge about a variety of stones and nuts to select suitable nut-cracking implements, the scientists assert in a study published online January 15 in Current Biology.

Capuchins make mental plans for fracturing a particular nut before selecting an appropriate stone for the task, Visalberghi’s team proposes.

“The present findings make capuchins a compelling model to track the evolutionary roots of stone-tool use,” Visalberghi says. Because capuchins last shared a common ancestor with humans approximately 35 million years ago, the team writes, the capacity for stone-tool use evolved earlier than thought.

More here.

Image source: Monkeys in The News


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