UnNews:Monkeys' stone percussion studied

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Monkeys' stone percussion studied

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23 March 2007


Watch your toes

edit Research in Brazil has produced fresh evidence that primates may have something approaching human "culture".

A scientist has observed Capuchin monkeys banging stones together. "This is clearly evidence of an advanced simian society," Dr Moura told UnNews whilst dropping a handful of gravel onto a large slab of limestone, "this kind of behaviour has only previously been described in the highest echelons of human society, such as at meetings of the Fabian Society or debates at the Oxford Union."


I wouldn't give my problems to a monkey on a rock

Dr Moura describes how the monkeys, as he approached several groups of them, would first search for a suitable loose stone, then hit it on a rock surface several times in an aggressive manner. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing," Dr Moura, banging a flint on rocky protuberance, commented. "I had no idea that monkeys were so skilled in social graces."

The doctor casually swung a stalactite into an outcrop of granite as he spoke. "Stone-banging is a novel behavioural variant that is most likely learned socially," he mused, lobbing a petrified log at a fossilised coelacanth. "The absence of this display in other populations of Capuchins, which have access to stones, suggests that stone-banging could be a social tradition in the population studied."

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