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

Abstract

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.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Tau K r is based on K statistics, where K r is derived from the tau approach of Kendall and measures the correlation within rows between two matrices. Partial Tau Kr is also an analogous of Kendall’s partial Tau and measures the association between two matrices keeping the effect of a third matrix constant (Hemelrijk 1990a,b)

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Acknowledgements

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

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Correspondence to Eduardo B. Ottoni.

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An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10071-005-0014-3.

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Ottoni, E.B., de Resende, B.D. & Izar, P. Watching the best nutcrackers: what capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) know about others’ tool-using skills. Anim Cogn 8, 215–219 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-004-0245-8

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Keywords

  • Tool use
  • Primates
  • Learning
  • Social cognition
  • Cebus apella