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Wild capuchin monkeys adjust stone tools according to changing nut properties

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Luncz_Wild_SciRep_2016.pdf
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Citation

Luncz, L. V., Falótico, T., Pascual-Garrido, A., Corat, C., Mosley, H., & Haslam, M. (2016). Wild capuchin monkeys adjust stone tools according to changing nut properties. Scientific Reports, 6: 33089. doi:10.1038/srep33089.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-A57F-1
Abstract
Animals foraging in their natural environments need to be proficient at recognizing and responding to changes in food targets that affect accessibility or pose a risk. Wild bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) use stone tools to access a variety of nut species, including otherwise inaccessible foods. This study tests whether wild capuchins from Serra da Capivara National Park in Brazil adjust their tool selection when processing cashew (Anacardium spp.) nuts. During the ripening process of cashew nuts, the amount of caustic defensive substance in the nut mesocarp decreases. We conducted field experiments to test whether capuchins adapt their stone hammer selection to changing properties of the target nut, using stones of different weights and two maturation stages of cashew nuts. The results show that although fresh nuts are easier to crack, capuchin monkeys used larger stone tools to open them, which may help the monkeys avoid contact with the caustic hazard in fresh nuts. We demonstrate that capuchin monkeys are actively able to distinguish between the maturation stages within one nut species, and to adapt their foraging behaviour accordingly.