The latest research shows that Brazilian monkeys have been employing stone tools for eons. In fact, our primitive ancestors probably learnt a thing or two from these simian predecessors of theirs.
Brazilian capuchin monkeys have been utilizing stone tools in order to crack cashew nuts for the past 700 years. This is an instance of stone tool use by monkeys outside the continent of Africa.
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What this prompts in return is the question whether early human beings saw these monkeys and learnt this behavioral response from them. It is a moot point.
Even wild macaques in Thailand use stone tools to crack open shellfish and nuts. The wild capuchins of Brazil meanwhile use the stone tools as primitive mortars and pestles and pound hard-to-open comestibles with them.
These monkeys even have whole sites where they leave behind these stone tools as relics of their activities. The capuchins are careful in choosing the sort of stones which are ideal for pounding the potential food items.
Those stones which were used as anvils were much heavier than those used as hammers. Also the hammers were hard quartz stones while the anvils were flat sandstones. Over 69 such stone tools were unearthed and studied in depth by the researchers.
The digging took place all the way to a depth of 0.7 meters. The sizes and shapes of the stones were noted down. Also the effects of the pounding actions engaged in by the monkeys were observed.
Through mass spectrometry it was found that dark-colored residue from cashew nuts was extant on the stone tools. It was found that over 100 generations of capuchin monkeys had been using these stone tools for their purposes.
The monkeys had preferred to continue using their chosen primitive technology. They didn’t change it like humans who of course progressed way beyond these simian cousins of theirs.
The monkeys were an example of the conservatism found in animals. Man with his liberality and open-endedness finds new means as a way to deal with the complex ever-changing environment.
While mankind learnt a few things from observing these monkeys, he later on built upon the cultural base and progressed to the point where culture became a black hole which virtually started devouring Nature.
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This research got published published in the journal Current Biology.