Capuchin Monkeys’ Use of Stone Tools May Have Influenced Early Humans

September 13, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. species /ˈspi ʃiz / (n.) – a group of living things sharing the same characteristics
Example: There are over 250 species of monkeys.

2. attest / əˈtɛst / (v.) – to provide evidence or proof about something
Example: The manager’s positive feedback attests to the employee’s outstanding performance.

3. primate / ˈpraɪ meɪt / (n.) – a group of mammals that includes monkeys
Example: Humans are believed to have evolved from primates.

4. estimated / ˈɛs təˌmeɪtɛd / (adj.) – a calculated amount
Example: Scientists would like to know the estimated number of animals in the world.

5. omnivore / ˈɒm nəˌvɔr / (n.) – something that eats both plants or animals
Example: Pigs and rats are omnivores.


Read the text below.
Scientists have discovered that monkeys’ use of stone tools may have influenced humans.

Evidence shows that Capuchin [KAP-yoo-chin] monkeys, a monkey species found in Central and South America, may have been opening cashews with stone hammers for hundreds of years. The researchers observed the behavior of monkeys living in a national park in northeast Brazil. They then compared their observations with archaeological data.

Experts from the Oxford University and the University of São Paulo in Brazil attest that these primates have been doing the said practice for around 700 years – long before humans first came to the region.

Archaeological findings, such as hammer-like stones unearthed in the area, show that the method used by Capuchin monkeys to open cashews has remained the same for centuries. Thus, researchers believe that the humans who first came to the area may have observed and copied some of the monkeys’ practices.

Classified under the genus Cebus, Capuchin monkeys are described as having dark-colored arms, legs, tails, and lower bodies. In contrast, their faces and upper bodies are light-colored. They have an estimated length of 30 to 56 centimeters and an average weight of 1.3 kilograms.

Capuchin monkeys hunt for food all day, while they spend the evening sleeping on tree branches. As omnivores, their diet consists of both plant-based food, such as nuts, and animal-based food, such as insects. As they tend to steal crops from fields, they have also earned the reputation of being troublemakers. 

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What similarities between monkeys and humans do you know of?
·        Do you think that monkeys can perform other human tasks? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you agree that humans evolved from animals? Why or why not?
·         How else can we learn more about the origins of humans? 

September 13, 2016