SCIENCE

Clever Monkey Demonstrates The Proper Way To Crack A Nut

05/02/2015 09:59 am ET

When it comes to cracking nuts, capuchins don't monkey around.

Just have a look at this video showing a little monkey named Jatobá expertly crack a tucum nut. Five quick whacks, and voila!

The video was taken as part of a new study on wild-bearded capuchins (Cebus libidinosus) living in the open woodland of Piaui, Brazil.

"Until now, this level of dexterity was not suspected of any monkey," Madhur Mangalam, a psychology graduate student at the University of Georgia at Athens and one of the researchers involved in the study, said in a written statement.

For the study, Mangalam and her colleagues recorded 14 capuchins cracking nuts with a stone "hammer," and then analyzed the videos to determine the force of each strike. To their surprise, the scientists found that the monkeys don't simply whack a nut over and over until it breaks open. Instead, they monkeys examine the nut after each strike and artfully adjust the amount of force they use -- so as to save their energy and prevent the nut's kernel from getting smashed.

"It was a 'eureka' moment when we realized that the monkeys modulated the strikes systematically according to the condition of the nut following the preceding strike," Mangalam said in the statement.

It's not the first time scientists have been impressed by monkeys' abilities. Previous research showed that monkeys can do math and even learn to spend money.

A paper describing the research was published on April 29 in the journal Current Biology.

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