A recent study showed that capuchin monkeys use tools in order to crack nuts and fruits. Approximately half a million years ago, capuchin monkeys arrived in the northeast region of Brazil. Seeing as their food of choice is scarce in the area, they were forced to be creative and find new ways of providing for themselves.
According to a recent study, at some point, one bearded capuchin was so hungry that it took a rock and smashed a cashew fruit in order to get to the nutritious hidden contents. From that point on, all of the primates learned how to use tools to be able to enjoy the local Brazilian food.
“It may be that part of the reason that capuchins were able to colonize this area is that they found a technological solution – stone tool use – to overcome these plant defenses,” declared Michael Haslam, an Oxford University archaeologist.
The study conducted by Haslam and his team concluded that capuchin monkeys use tools for over 700 years. They reached this conclusion after unearthing dozens of stone anvils and hammers in the Serra da Capivara National Park.
The paper that was published in the journal Current Biology on Monday states that the find represents the oldest tools used by non-humans found outside of the African continent. They are also the oldest tools not belonging to chimpanzees or humans.
“If tool use was indeed part of that colonizing process, then we can hypothesize that this behavior may be hundreds of thousands of years old,” said Haslam.
The researchers believe that capuchin monkeys use tools based on material and size. Their hammers are made of quartzite, which is a hard material, allowing them to craft small enough tools that will fit in their hands. They also use a heavier anvil made out of sandstone as a flat surface with which they strike the cashew.
“It becomes like a set of cutlery at a restaurant; the tools are just sitting there for you.”
It seems that once the monkeys find a suitable set of tools, they make sure they don’t lose it. Thus, scientists have observed them hiding their favorite tools in holes near their food source.
Image source: Wikipedia