Friday, July 22, 2011

Mandrill Monkey Makes 'Pedicuring' Tool

A crude "pedicure" carried out by a mandrill at Chester Zoo suggests the monkeys are capable of more advanced tool use than previously thought.

Scientists from Durham University, UK, filmed the mandrill stripping a twig and using the resulting tool to clean under its toenails.

They published the findings in the journal Behavioural Processes.

Mandrills are the fifth species of Old World monkey seen deliberately modifying tools.

Non-human apes, including chimpanzees and orangutans, can adapt basic tools for specific jobs.

One well-known example of this behaviour is termite fishing in chimpanzees, where the animals strip down grasses to make fishing rods that they then poke into termite mounds to snag the nutritious insects.

"It is an ability that, up until a few years ago, was thought to be unique to humans," said Dr Riccardo Pansini, who led the research.

The new findings, he said, indicate that monkeys' intelligence may too have been underestimated.

"The gap between monkeys and great apes is not as large as we thought it was in terms of tool use and modification," he told BBC Nature.

Full story here.

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