International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 347–358

Semifree-ranging Tufted Capuchins (Cebus apella) Spontaneously Use Tools to Crack Open Nuts

  • Eduardo B. Ottoni
  • Massimo Mannu

DOI: 10.1023/A:1010747426841

Cite this article as:
Ottoni, E.B. & Mannu, M. International Journal of Primatology (2001) 22: 347. doi:10.1023/A:1010747426841


Naturalistic studies on tool use by nonhuman primates have focused almost exclusively on Old World monkeys or hominoids. We studied the cracking of Syagrus nuts with the aid of stones by a group of semifree-ranging capuchins living in a reforested area (Tietê Ecological Park, São Paulo, Brazil). Our data are from direct observation and from mapping nut-cracking site utilization. All adults, subadults and juveniles (plus one infant) crack nuts, but individual differences in frequency and proficiency are marked. Juveniles do most of the nut-cracking, but adults are, on average, more efficient; the frequency of inept stone manipulation decreases with age. About 10% of the nut-cracking episodes were watched by other individuals—mostly infants and juveniles, suggesting a role for observational learning, even if restricted to stimulus enhancement.

capuchinforagingtool use

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo B. Ottoni
    • 1
  • Massimo Mannu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Psychology—Institute of PsychologyUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil