Monkey Teaches Human How to Use Tools to Survive

Black-striped (bearded) capuchin monkey. Photo by Tiago Falótico.
Black-striped (bearded) capuchin monkey. Image: Tiago Falótico.

Chimpanzees are our closest relatives, so it’s no surprise that they use tools to survive in the wilderness. But other less advanced primates make use of tools as well, and they use them with equal purpose and finesse.

Brazilian bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) are the first non-ape primates observed using tools in the wild. These monkeys have been documented using stones to crack open cashew nuts and other hard food, and according to recent research, they have been doing this for a long time; specifically, 600 to 700 years. This means that capuchin stone hammers and anvils are the oldest nonhuman tools found outside Africa.

Today, the capuchin stone tool tradition continues, and some monkeys are even sharing their secrets with other species. Below, you can see a capuchin monkey instructing a female human on how to properly use stone tools.

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With monkeys learning to use tools and passing this skill down for generations, what do you think future monkeys be like? Will they evolve better techniques, or continue the same traditions without advancing for the next few thousand years? Only time will tell, and evolution does not advance quickly.

In the video below, watch a capuchin monkey use a stone hammer to break open a cashew on a stone anvil. There is definitely a human element to this behavior:

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