Monkeys Amaze Scientists By Using Tools

capuchin on a branch

Monkeys, known as capuchins, have adapted to the harsh Brazilian environments

BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Monkeys, known as capuchins, have adapted to the harsh Brazilian environments by using tools.  Half a million years ago, capuchins came into the region of Northeast Brazil. They desperately needed food to survive. The food was scarce, and monkeys had few options. So they found a superior way of getting food out of the nuts. They used stone tools to crack the nuts open.

An ancient capuchin looked at a cashew fruit and found the solution to eating: cracking it open with a stone. Doing this, it made monkey history by adjusting to a new habitat for the monkey species. That was one of the reasons for which capuchins could colonize the area.

They found a technological solution to overcome the harsh conditions. Using stones as tools is a smart thing for a monkey. A new study on Brazilian capuchins conducted by the University of Oxford revealed a surprising fact. Monkeys have been using stones as tools for the last 700 years, possibly even more.

The team of experts from Oxford and the University of Sao-Paulo found dozens of carved stone hammers and anvils. The tools were found in Serra da Capivara National Park of Northeastern Brazil. This is a major scientific discovery because they’re the oldest non-human tools found outside the African continent. Also, these ancient tools do not belong to chimpanzees or humans.  Instead, they were crafted by capuchins.

Scientists made other important observations based on this discovery. The first humans who arrived in Brazil 20,000 years ago began eating cashews around 7,000 years ago. There’s a possibility they learned how to find them by spying on the capuchins. However, even the first humans would prepare the cashews roasted, not by simply hitting them with stones.

Another interesting fact is how young monkeys learn from older capuchins the method of harvesting cashew. An estimated 100 generations of capuchins have used stone tools to survive in Northeast Brazil. This shows that monkey, unlike humans, stopped advancing technologically. Moreover, it shows that some species are more conservative and faithful to their traditions than others.

The discovery further goes to prove that ancient humans learned essential practices by observing advanced animals.

These capuchins are not the only animals using tools. Chimpanzees in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa where the first to use such tools.

Image Source – Wikipedia