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Earliest evidence of monkeys’ use of stone tools found

Capuchins in Brazil used flat ‘anvils’ and round ‘hammers’ to smash nuts at least 600 years ago

4:06pm, July 11, 2016
bearded capuchin monkey cracks nut

NUTCRACKER  A juvenile male bearded capuchin monkey uses a rock like a hammer to open a green cashew nut. Capuchins have used stone tools like these for at least 600 years.

Using tools is very old monkey business.

Capuchins in northeast Brazil have wielded stones to crack open cashew nuts for 600 to 700 years, researchers report July 11 in Current Biology. Unearthed “hammers” and “anvils” are the earliest evidence of monkey tool use to date.

Today, Brazilian bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) still open cashews by placing them on the flat surfaces of anvil rocks and pounding the nuts with large stones. Unlike pebbles and other rocks, the tool stones are distinctively heavy, blemished with wear marks, greased with cashew residue and clustered under cashew trees, Michael Haslam of the University of Oxford and colleagues found.

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