As some of you know one of my big interests is Primatology. Yes I LOVE apes, monkeys, and the whole 9 yards! 🙂 Back in 2016 an article appeared in the international weekly science journal “Nature” reporting that monkeys “flake stone tools.”
We humans like to think ourselves unique but that might not altogether be the case after all. As the article mentions “Sharp edged stone flakes, struck from larger cores, are the primary evidence for the earliest stone technology.” That’s very true but monkeys seem to be right behind us! It has been observed that the Capuchin monkey in Brazil deliberately breaks stones producing sharp-edged flakes and cores that appear to be intentionally produced hominin tools! The article concludes, “The production of archaeologically visible cores and flakes is therefore no longer unique to the human lineage…”.
But that’s not all. Also in 2016 “Nature” reported that Brazil’s Capuchin monkeys may have used worn stones as stone tools hundreds of years ago and if so then this provides some of the earliest evidence for stone tool use by a species other than humans or chimps!
The oldest stone tools (Oldowan tools) made by ancient human relatives date back possibly to 3 mya but the archaeological record for other primates and stone tool use is scant. What we do know is that the Bearded Capuchins are known to use stone anvils to remove the nasty tasting skin of cashews among other things. When researchers from the University of Oxford excavated a small area in a national park in Brazil in which Capuchins live they found no less than 69 buried stones with cut marks seen on anvil stones. This excavation was led by Michael Haslam and when C14 dating was employed it gave a date of 750 years ago! So Capuchins have been producing and using stone tools for a while now. Continue Reading