Animal Cognition

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 215–219 | Cite as

Watching the best nutcrackers: what capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) know about others’ tool-using skills

  • Eduardo B. OttoniEmail author
  • Briseida Dogo de Resende
  • Patrícia Izar
Original Article


The present work is part of a decade-long study on the spontaneous use of stones for cracking hard-shelled nuts by a semi-free-ranging group of brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Nutcracking events are frequently watched by other individuals - usually younger, less proficient, and that are well tolerated to the point of some scrounging being allowed by the nutcracker. Here we report findings showing that the choice of observational targets is an active, non-random process, and that observers seem to have some understanding of the relative proficiency of their group mates, preferentially watching the more skilled nutcrackers, which enhances not only scrounging payoffs, but also social learning opportunities.


Tool use Primates Learning Social cognition Cebus apella 



Funding for this research was provided by FAPESP to E.B.O., a CNPq Research grant to E.B.O., a FAPESP grant to B.D.R. and a CAPES grant to P.I. The authors thank the editor and three anonymous referees for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript

Supplementary material

S1 Darwin and Edu watch Eli cracking nuts.

CapuchinTooUseWatch.avi (1.5 mb)
avi (1.5 MB)

mpg (4.2 MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo B. Ottoni
    • 1
    Email author
  • Briseida Dogo de Resende
    • 1
  • Patrícia Izar
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Cognitive Ethology, Department of Experimental Psychology, Institute of PsychologyUniversity of São PauloBrazil

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