(The Telegraph) Monkeys create stone tools forcing scientists to rethink human evolution
In a discovery that calls into question decades of research, a band of wild bearded capuchin monkeys in Brazil were seen hammering rocks to extract minerals, causing large flakes to fly off.
Previously archaeologists believed the flakes were only made by humans through a process called ‘stone-knapping’ where a larger rock is hammered with another stone to produce sharp blade-like slivers which can be used for arrows, spears or knives.
The flakes were thought to represent a turning point in human evolution because they demonstrated a level of planning, cognition and hand manipulation that could not be achieved by other animals.
But the new research suggests that flakes can be made without any such foresight. In fact they can simply be made by accident.
“The fact that we have discovered monkeys can produce the same result does throw a bit of a spanner in the works in our thinking on evolutionary behaviour and how we attribute such artefacts,” said Dr Michael Haslam, lead of the Primate Archaeology project at theUniversity of Oxford.