Wild Bearded Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus Libidinosus) Place Nuts in Anvils Selectively

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Animal Behaviour


Are wild bearded capuchin monkeys selective about where they place nuts on anvils, specifically the anvil pits, during nut cracking? In the present study, we examined (1) whether capuchins' preferences for particular pits are influenced by the effectiveness of the pit in cracking the nut and/or by the stability of the nut during striking, (2) how capuchins detect the affordances of novel pits and (3) the influence of social context on their selections. Anvil pits varied in horizontal dimension (small, medium and large) in experiment 1 and in depth (shallow, medium and deep) in experiment 2. In both experiments, three different pits were simultaneously presented, each on one anvil. We coded the capuchins' actions with the nut in each pit, and recorded the outcome of each strike. In both experiments, capuchins preferred the most effective pit, but not the most stabilizing pit, based on the number of first strikes, total strikes and nuts cracked. Their choice also reflected where the preceding individual had last struck. The capuchins explored the pits indirectly, placing nuts in them and striking nuts with a stone. The preference for pits was weaker than the preference for nuts and stones shown previously with the same monkeys. Our findings suggest that detecting affordances of pits through indirect action is less precise than through direct action, and that social context may also influence selection. We show that field experiments can demonstrate embodied cognition in species-typical activities in natural environments.



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Affordance, Anvil use, Capuchin, Cebus libidinosus, Embodied cognition, Nut cracking, Perception-action, Selectivity, Social influence, Tool use