Tool use by Amazonian capuchin monkeys during predation on caiman nests in a high-productivity forest
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Descriptions of new tool-use events are important for understanding how ecological context may drive the evolution of tool use among primate traditions. Here, we report a possible case of the first record of tool use by wild Amazonian capuchin monkeys (Sapajus macrocephalus). The record was made by a camera trap, while we were monitoring caiman nest predation at Mamirauá Reserve in Central Amazonia. An adult individual was registered in a bipedal posture, apparently using a branch as a shovel to dig eggs out of a nest. Caiman eggs are frequently depredated by opportunistic animals, such as the capuchin monkeys. As the Mamirauá Reserve is covered by a high-productivity forest, and caiman eggs are a high-quality food resource seasonally available on the ground, we believe that tool use by capuchins is more likely to be opportunity driven, rather than necessity driven, in our study site.
KeywordsBehavior Nest predation Opportunistic tool use Primate culture Sapajus
This research was funded by the Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá (IDSM-OS/MCTI) and by the IDSM AQUAVERT project funded by the Programa Petrobras Ambiental. The caiman-nest monitoring is a project of the Caiman Conservation and Management Research Program of IDSM. We thank the Infrastructure and Logistics Team at Mamirauá Institute for supporting our fieldwork. Vanessa Schmitt, Erenilson de Oliveira, Hidelbrando Silva, Ozimar Silva, Erivan Castro, João Carvalho and Helson Pinto Martins assisted with the fieldwork. We also thank Patrícia Izar for her valuable suggestions regarding an early draft of the manuscript, Bill Magnusson for the final English review, the editor and one anonymous reviewer for their contributions that improved the manuscript.
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