Wild capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) at Serra da Capivara National Park, Brazil, regularly use stone tools to break open cashew nuts (Anacardium spp.). Here we examine 2 approaches used by the capuchins to position the kidney-shaped cashew nuts on an anvil before striking with a stone tool. Lateral positioning involves placing the nut on its flatter, more stable side, therefore requiring less attention from the monkey during placement. However, the less stable and never previously described arched position, in which the nut is balanced with its curved side uppermost, requires less force to crack the outer shell. We observed cashew nut cracking in a field experimental setting. Only 6 of 20 adults, of both sexes, were observed to deliberately place cashew nuts in an arched position, which may indicate that the technique requires time and experience to learn. We also found that use of the arched position with dry nuts, but not fresh, required, in 63% of the time, an initial processing to remove one of the cashew nut lobes, creating a more stable base for the arch. This relatively rare behaviour appears to have a complex ontogeny, but further studies are required to establish the extent to which social learning is involved.
Falótico, T.Luncz, L.V.Svensson, M.S.Haslam, M.
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\Department of Social Sciences
Year of publication: 2017Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-05-11