Unlike early hominids, capuchins don’t use sharp-edged rocks to dig or cut
Michael Haslam/Primate Archaeology Group
A group of South American monkeys has rocked archaeologists’ assumptions about the origins of stone-tool making.
Wild bearded capuchin monkeys in Brazil use handheld stones to whack rocks poking out of cliffs and outcrops. The animals unintentionally break off sharp-edged stones that resemble stone tools made by ancient members of the human evolutionary family, say archaeologist Tomos Proffitt of the University of Oxford and his colleagues. It’s the first observation of this hominid-like rock-fracturing ability in a nonhuman primate.