Send to

Choose Destination
J Hum Evol. 2011 Jul;61(1):97-107. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.02.010. Epub 2011 Apr 5.

Stone tool use by adult wild bearded capuchin monkeys (Cebus libidinosus). Frequency, efficiency and tool selectivity.

Author information

Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via Aldrovandi 16B, 00161 Rome, Italy.


Chimpanzees have been the traditional referential models for investigating human evolution and stone tool use by hominins. We enlarge this comparative scenario by describing normative use of hammer stones and anvils in two wild groups of bearded capuchin monkeys (Cebus libidinosus) over one year. We found that most of the individuals habitually use stones and anvils to crack nuts and other encased food items. Further, we found that in adults (1) males use stone tools more frequently than females, (2) males crack high resistance nuts more frequently than females, (3) efficiency at opening a food by percussive tool use varies according to the resistance of the encased food, (4) heavier individuals are more efficient at cracking high resistant nuts than smaller individuals, and (5) to crack open encased foods, both sexes select hammer stones on the basis of material and weight. These findings confirm and extend previous experimental evidence concerning tool selectivity in wild capuchin monkeys (Visalberghi et al., 2009b; Fragaszy et al., 2010b). Male capuchins use tools more frequently than females and body mass is the best predictor of efficiency, but the sexes do not differ in terms of efficiency. We argue that the contrasting pattern of sex differences in capuchins compared with chimpanzees, in which females use tools more frequently and more skillfully than males, may have arisen from the degree of sexual dimorphism in body size of the two species, which is larger in capuchins than in chimpanzees. Our findings show the importance of taking sex and body mass into account as separate variables to assess their role in tool use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center