Eduardo B. Ottoni and Patrícia Izar lead the Cognitive Ethology Laboratory in the Institute of Psychology of the University of São Paulo, Brazil. This laboratory's main research lines are concerned with animal cognition, sociality, and socially mediated learning. Current projects include studies on tool use and social dynamics in semi-free and wild capuchin monkeys, cognitive processes in psittacine birds, and environmental enrichment for captive animals.
Capuchin monkey tool use: Overview and implications
Article first published online: 22 AUG 2008
Copyright © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews
Volume 17, Issue 4, pages 171–178, July/August 2008
How to Cite
Ottoni, E. B. and Izar, P. (2008), Capuchin monkey tool use: Overview and implications. Evol. Anthropol., 17: 171–178. doi: 10.1002/evan.20185
- Issue published online: 22 AUG 2008
- Article first published online: 22 AUG 2008
- Leakey Foundation
- National Geographic Society
- socially biased learning;
- social information transfer;
- behavioral traditions;
- primate cognition
Nutcracking capuchins are mentioned in reports dating as far back as the sixteenth century,1, 2 as well as in Brazilian folklore.3 However, it was barely a decade ago that primatologists “discovered” the spontaneous use of stones to crack nuts in a semi-free ranging group of tufted capuchin monkeys. Since then, we have found several more capuchin populations in savanna-like environments which employ this form of tool use.5–7 The evidence so far only weakly supports genetically based behavioral differences between populations and does not suggest that dietary pressures in poor environments are proximate determinants of the likelihood of tool use. Instead, tool use within these capuchin populations seems to be a behavioral tradition that is socially learned and is primarily associated with more terrestrial habits. However, differences in the diversity of “tool kits” between populations remain to be understood.