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J Comp Psychol. 1998 Jun;112(2):207-11.

Why some capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) use probing tools (and others do not).

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Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Poolesville, Maryland 20837, USA.


Tufted capuchins (Cebus apella) were provided with a task that facilitated the use and modification of sticks as probing tools. It was found that subjects aged 10 years or older at initial task exposure were less likely to use tools than were younger subjects. Furthermore, juveniles whose mothers died before the subjects were aged 3 years were less likely to use tools than were juveniles whose mothers survived through this period. The ability to use tools was not related to subject sex or to access to the tool site or raw tool materials. Subjects modified tools both before and during their use, and the relative percentage of tools modified increased with subject age. Thus, it appears that capuchins most readily acquire tool use before the age of 10 years and that early disruption of the mother-infant relationship has deleterious effects on the emergence of instrumental behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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