Critically endangered blonde capuchins fish for termites and use new techniques to accomplish the task

Antonio Souto, Camila B. C. Bione, Monique Bastos, Bruna M. Bezerra, Dorothy Fragaszy, Nicola Schiel

Abstract

We report the spontaneous modification and use of sticks to fish for termites, above the ground, in wild blonde capuchins (Cebus flavius). These critically endangered Neotropical primates inhabit remnants of the Atlantic Forest. They used two previously undescribed techniques to enhance their termite capture success: nest tapping and stick rotation. The current ecologically based explanation for tool use in wild capuchins (i.e. terrestrial habits and bipedalism) must be viewed cautiously. Instead, remarkable manual skills linked to a varied diet seem important in promoting tool use in different contexts. The repertoire of tool-using techniques employed by wild capuchins has been expanded, highlighting the behavioural versatility in this genus.

  • Received January 10, 2011.
  • Accepted February 14, 2011.
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