Skip to comments.“Hercules” Monkeys Lift Stones to Crack Nuts
Posted on 12/07/2012 9:55:27 PM PST by nickcarraway
This holiday season Im featuring a nutcracker of another sortthe bearded capuchin of Brazil.
Native to open woodlands called the Cerrado, these monkeys are nicknamed Hercules with a tail, and for good reasonthey can lift a stone heavier than themselves to break open tough palm nuts. (Watch a video of the nutcracking monkeys.)
A monkey with a missing foot can still crack just as well. Photograph courtesy Dorothy Fragaszy
National Geographic grantee Dorothy Fragaszy has been studying these charismatic little critters in the field, and last week she stopped by headquarters to update us on her research. She passed out some of the palm nuts, which seemed as hard as rocks and nearly impossible to crack.
But bearded capuchins do by taking whats called a hammer stone, hoisting it over their heads with both hands, and then slamming it down on a nut with brute force.
The monkeys resemble human weightlifters when they raise the stone. Photograph courtesy B. Wright
Most of the capuchins in the Cerrado do this behavior, all year long and virtually every day. And the more Fragazny has videotaped and observed the monkeys, the more shes realized theres a well-honed science to the housecat-size capuchins cracking.
(See video of chimpanzees using tools to hunt mammals.)
For instance, the animals carefully select their hammer stonesmade of quartzite and relatively rare in the regionby their weights. They also choose anvilsa broad stone or log where the nut is crackedthat already have pits, in which the animals place the palm nut.
The monkeys are curious about humans, too. Photograph courtesy M. Haslam
And finally, the monkeys orient the nut in a particular way in the pit that increases their chances of getting at the yummy stuff insideincluding, sometimes, beetle larvae. (The clever guys can also determine which nuts have the tasty larvae.)
Not only is nutcracking deliberate, its also a tradition, Fragazy believes, since its acquired laboriously in a supportive social context.
For instance, even before they can pick up a stone, youngsters try to crack nutsreally an act of optimism, she said. Young monkeys persistent interest in cracking suggests the activity of others motivates exploration and practice.
A young bearded capuchinand possibly future nutcracker. Photograph courtesy Marino Junior Fonseca Oliveira
She showed us a video of a young monkey missing the nut again and again but admirably not giving upperhaps a wise takeaway for all of us!
Sheesh! These monkeys are making movies and the humans are impressed that they know how to crack open nuts!!! We’re a doomed species.
Maybe so, but his aim is ...not so good, if a rock took his foot off last season.
Maybe not so bad either. At least he didn’t crack his nuts.
Mon ami, I only came to tell you I can no longer meet weeth
you like zees on theez lonely catwalk.
a film noir? like maybe the 2012 election?
Yet some voters have trouble getting free government ID’s!
Gorillas are on average six to eight times stronger than an Olympic weightlifter, and many of those weightlifters have lifted over twice (and sometimes over three times) their own body weight, so you can imagine the strength of a 400-lb gorilla.
If you know one that's available next spring when I start remodling the parlor, let me know. I'm not looking forward to moving the piano.
Yes... I know gorillas in the parlor are inappropriate, but it's remodling.
Reminds me of a book on misheard lyrics.
Michelle, my belle,
Sunday monkey won’t play piano song...
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Thanks nickcarraway. A nutcracker story, just in time for Christmas!