International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 457–470

Wild Capuchins Show Male-Biased Feeding Tool Use


DOI: 10.1007/s10764-010-9406-6

Cite this article as:
de A. Moura, A.C. & Lee, P.C. Int J Primatol (2010) 31: 457. doi:10.1007/s10764-010-9406-6


Relatively few studies have explored sex differences in the use of foraging tools among primates other than apes. Although male primates are thought to be more innovative, researchers have reported a female sex bias in the use of feeding tools in wild chimpanzees. We investigate here the nature and extent of sex differences in foraging tool use over 12 mo in a free-ranging group of bearded capuchins (2 males, 5 females, and 3 juveniles) living in the dry Caatinga forests of the Serra da Capivara National Park, Piaui, Brazil. These capuchins used 3 major types of feeding tools: 1) tools for probing; 2) tools for pounding/cracking; and 3) digging stones to extract tubers or roots. Adult males performed 63% (n = 134) of all events of tool use and used tools significantly more frequently than did females, although male bout lengths across all tools (57 s ± 7.9 SE) were equivalent to those of adult females (47.3 s ± 12.6 SE). Both sexes used digging and cracking tools, although at different rates, whereas adult males used sticks to probe for prey and other rewards far more than females. Differential opportunities to use tools were not apparent: >71% of tool-use events occurred on the ground, and males and females spent equal time on the ground. We suggest that sex differences in tool use may function as opportunities for male signaling of investment quality.


Cebussex differencessexual selectiontool use

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Ciencias Aplicadas e Educacao, Departamento de Engenharia e Meio AmbienteUniversidade Fedaral da ParabaRio TintoBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Behaviour and Evolution Research GroupUniversity of StirlingStirlingScotland