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Well-Tooled Primates

The evolutionary roots of our technological prowess may run deep

By
2:39pm, February 3, 2007

In a lab in Japan, a macaque monkey eyes a small, plastic rake and performs an act that his wild brethren would never dream of doing. The animal grasps the utensil by its handle and extends it toward a food pellet placed beyond his reach. Slowly, the monkey manipulates the rake so that it drags the morsel close enough that he can grab it and pop it into his mouth. Researchers in the lab suspect that macaques possess an innate neural capacity for manipulating objects that encourages tool use, even if such behavior occurs rarely in the wild.

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