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J Comp Psychol. 2005 May;119(2):210-9.

Choosing and using tools: capuchins (Cebus apella) use a different metric than tamarins (Saguinus oedipus).

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Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, GA, USA.


Cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) selected canes positioned so that a straight inward pull brought food within reach (M. D. Hauser, 1997; see also record 1997-41347-003). Tamarins failed to retrieve food with canes in other positions, and they did not reposition these canes. In this study, tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) preferred canes they could pull straight in when these were present, but they also repositioned canes in individually variable ways, and their success at obtaining food with repositioned canes improved with practice. In accord with predictions drawn from ecological psychology, capuchins discovered affordances of canes through exploratory actions with these objects, whereas tamarins did not. Ecological theory predicts these differences on the basis of species-typical manipulative activity, and it provides a useful approach for the study of species differences in tool-using behavior.

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