Scientists have just announced a group of monkeys in Panama may have entered their own stone age.
A population of white-faced capuchin monkeys, living on the Panamanian island of Jicaron, have been seen using stones to crack open nuts and shellfish, just like we did in… ages ago.
Scientists observed the monkeys using stones in 2004 but only returned in March last year to catch the clever little guys on camera.
They believe the skill was learnt ‘by chance’ and don’t know precisely when the 6-million-year inhabitants of the island began the practise, according to New Scientist.
The white-faced capuchin, also known as the white-headed capuchin and the white-throated capuchin, is a medium sized species of monkey, native to the jungles of Central America and the northern regions of South America.
The white-faced capuchin is one of the most well known monkeys, particularly in North America, and the white-faced capuchin is thought to be one of the most intelligent monkeys in the world, with the white-faced capuchin being best known as a companion for organ grinders as well as being used to assist people who are paraplegic.
No local populations have proved to use similar tactics to go about their daily lives.
This marks the fourth-observed group and non-human primates that have used stoned for tools.
Other species who’ve demonstrated similar practises include west African chimpanzees, macaques in Thailand, and other species of capuchins in South America.
The term ‘Stone Age’ was coined in the late 19th century CE by the Danish scholar, Christian J. Thomsen, who came up with a framework for the study of the human past, known as the ‘Three Age System’.
The basis of this framework is technological: it revolves around the notion of three successive periods or ages: Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age, each age being technologically more complex than the one before it.
Thomsen came up with this idea after noticing the artefacts found in archaeological sites displayed regularity in terms of the material they were made with: stone-made tools were always found in the deepest layers, bronze artefacts in layers on top of the deepest layers, and finally iron-made artefacts were found closest to the surface.
This suggested metal technology developed later than stone-made tools.
With the introduction of Bronze metallurgy, the Stone Age came to an end. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin, which has greater hardness than copper, better casting properties, and a lower melting point.
Bronze could be used for making weapons, something not possible with copper, which is not hard enough to endure combat conditions.
In time, bronze became the primary material for tools and weapons, and a good part of the stone technology became obsolete, signalling the end of the Stone Age.
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