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Monkey 'tools' raise questions over human archaeological record.


In January, archaeologist Tomos Proffitt was examining a set of stone artefacts brought to him by his colleague Michael Haslam. Some of the quartz pieces looked like sharpened stone tools made by human relatives in eastern Africa, some 2–3 million years ago.

But Haslam told Proffitt that the artefacts had been made in the previous two years by capuchin monkeys in Brazil. “I was pretty gobsmacked,” Proffitt says. “I did my PhD looking at hominin stone tools. I’ve learnt how to make these things. I was looking at this material, and it looked like it had been made by humans.”....

About half of the flakes made by the capuchins bore the hallmarks of Oldowan tools called choppers, says Proffitt. One set of flakes seemed to have been broken off of the same hammer stone in succession, “something that’s only ever been associated with humans”, says Proffit. Yet he emphasizes that the monkeys make the fragments unintentionally and “at no point do they use these flakes. They’re just hitting stones together”.

Chimps Learned Tool Use Long Ago Without Human Help.


The handheld hammers were found at a chimpanzee settlement in the Ivory Coast and date back 4,300 years. Chimpanzees have been observed using similar tools for the past few centuries, but scientists assumed the intelligent apes were simply copying local people cutting open fruit nearby....

Though there were no chimpanzee remains at the settlement, testing by archaeologists revealed the tool-laden camp was most likely used by the Great Ape. The stones were much bigger than anything a human could use comfortably and bore the residue of nuts that modern chimpanzees like to snack on.

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Monkey 'Tools' Raise Questions Over Human Archaeological Record 1027 Thanos5150 27-Apr-17 21:34

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