Who’s an expert nutcracker? Monkeys!

December 1st, 2010 - 2:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 1 (ANI): Wild bearded capuchin monkeys are the real nut-cracking kings, revealed a new study.

The research found that these animals put together their own nut-cracking devices and are experts at using them.

Qing Liu of the University of Georgia and an international team studied how the diminutive primates crack nuts with a hammer and anvil nut-cracking device, reports Discovery News.

The ‘hammer’ consists of stones chosen by the hungry monkey. The ‘anvil’ is a wooden surface, such as a log, with a pit banged into the top. Many such anvils were around for the monkeys to choose.

“In our study group, (monkey) members often waited in nearby trees for their turn to crack nuts. The visibility was good, with little or no obstruction from foliage between tree limbs and the anvil,” said Liu.

The monkeys don’t just randomly whack the nut - the “capuchins are sensitive to certain properties of the pits they use in nut-cracking, preferring to use pits that require the fewest strikes to crack nuts,” according to the researchers.

“Capuchins assessed the effectiveness of the pits either by positioning the nut, using the nut as an extension of their hand, or by striking the nut with the stone, thereby indirectly gaining information about the pit,” they said.

The monkeys preferred the most effective anvil pits, based on the number of first strikes, total strikes and nuts cracked. Their success was due to learning from others by observation as well as by trial and error, not unlike how humans learn to use gadgets.

Monkeys have a few other nutcracking tricks too, according to the study - When given a choice, they prefer nuts with low resistance shells that are easier to crack. They also prefer to select huge, heavy stones that can really smash the shells. They use their entire body during the nutcracking process. (ANI)

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