Wild bearded capuchins (Sapajus libidinosus) in the cerrado (seasonally dry savannah-like region) of Brazil routinely crack open several species of palm nuts and other hard encased fruits and seeds on level surfaces (anvils) using stones as hammers. At our field site, their nut cracking activity leaves enduring diagnostic physical remains: distinctive shallow depressions (pits) on the surface of the anvil, and cracked shells and stone hammer(s) on or next to the anvil. A monthly survey of the physical remains of percussive tool use at 58 anvils in our study site over a 36-month period revealed repeated use, seasonal consistency, temporal variation, landscape-scale patterning, appearance of new hammers and transport of existing hammers to new anvil sites. Artefactual evidence of the temporal and spatial pattern of tool use collected in the survey is in correspondence with concurrent direct observation of monkeys using and transporting tools at this site. Shell fragments endure for years above ground, suggesting that they may also endure in the strata around anvil sites. The bearded capuchins provide an opportunity to study the construction of percussive tool sites suitable for archeological investigation concurrently with the behavior responsible for the construction of these sites. We suggest several lines of inquiry into tool sites created by capuchin monkeys that may be useful to interpret the archeological evidence of percussive tool use in early humans. Archeologists should be aware that transported stone materials and artificial durable landscape features may be the result of activity by non-human animals. (c) 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Use of stone hammer tools and anvils by bearded capuchin monkeys over time and space: construction of an archeological record of tool use
Academic Press,, London , Regno Unito
Journal of archaeological science 40 (2013): 3222–3232. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2013.03.021
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Elisabetta, Visalberghi; Haslam, Michael; Spagnoletti, Noemi; Fragaszy, Dorothy/titolo:Use of stone hammer tools and anvils by bearded capuchin monkeys over time and space: construction of an archeological record of tool use/doi