University of Oxford. “Monkeys are seen making stone flakes so humans are ‘not unique’ after all: Wild-bearded capuchin monkeys in Brazil deliberately break stones, unintentionally creating flakes that share many of the characteristics of those produced by early Stone Age hominins.” ScienceDaily, 19 October 2016.
Researchers have observed wild-bearded capuchin monkeys in Brazil deliberately break stones, unintentionally creating flakes that share many of the characteristics of those produced by early Stone Age hominins. The difference is that the capuchins’ flakes are not intentional tools for cutting and scraping, but seem to be the by-product of hammering or ‘percussive behaviour’ that the monkeys engage in to extract minerals or lichen from the stones.
In a paper, published in Nature, the research team says this finding is significant because archaeologists had always understood that the production of multiple stone flakes with characteristics such as conchoidal fractures and sharp cutting edges was a behaviour unique to hominins. The paper suggests that scholars may have to refine their criteria for identifying intentionally produced early stone flakes made by hominins, given capuchins have been observed unintentionally making similar tools. Paper. (paywall) More. – Tomos Proffitt, Lydia V. Luncz, Tiago Falótico, Eduardo B. Ottoni, Ignacio de la Torre, Michael Haslam. Wild monkeys flake stone tools. Nature, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nature20112
“Unintentionally?” Could the monkeys do anything else we would notice? Why aren’t they doing arithmetic now?
Can no one see where this line of reasoning must lead?
See also: Are apes entering the Stone Age?
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