Brazil – The archaeologist Michael Haslam found in the Serra da Capivara National Park some bearded capuchins making stone tools by crashing them on the floor and other stones, similarly to humans in the Stone Age.
Dr. Haslam, after being surprised by the behavior of the chimps, made a video where they appeared shaping stones into tools but without realizing they were doing so. He also said that it is necessary to research about the early life of the hominids because, perhaps, the start of the Stone Age began accidentally and maybe humans used stones unconsciously.
In that sense, the archaeologist also found that the bearded capuchins licked the center of the stones after knocking them. In the same way, they also used them to make holes in the trees and heavier stones to use as anvils.
The report of Dr. Haslam, published in the journal Nature, represents an important discovery for primates since the bearded capuchins are the only ones ever seen creating shaped-rocks, as a contrast from other chimps that use the rocks just to smash fruits or shellfish.
Dr. John Shea from the Stony Brook University stated that humans made stone tools because they needed them, but when it comes to these capuchins they do not have the necessity to use these stones since their teeth are made to be able to bite solid things.
The Oxford University paleoanthropologist, Tomos Proffitt, said that it is precipitous to make conclusions about this behavior because, maybe, is about the nutrients the stones have so the capuchins knock them to lick some dust.
France’s National Center for Scientific Research paleontologist, Hélène Roche, alleged that researchers cannot compare early human dexterity with stone tools to the chimps’ behavior since they are two different species despite the similarities.
Animals that use stones as tools
The regular chimpanzees use stones as smashers, most commonly, to break nuts, shellfish, and hard-to-eat food. These animals do not only use rocks but also use sticks as weapons to hunt animals for their nourishment.
The banded mongooses use rocks as anvils to open foods with a hard shell. Scientists say that these carnivores develop hunting skills after the first six months of life.
Also, other animals such as elephants and birds use stones as tools to break shells to feed themselves. For this reasons, the findings of Dr. Haslam are innovating to the nature, because even though bearded capuchins do not use the stone-edged tools, no other animal modifies the structure of a rock to use it.
Source: Los Angeles Times