Saturday, November 5, 2011

Capuchin Monkeys are More Intelligent Than Originally Thought

Photo courtesy: © vincentraal

It is said that the ability to use tools is an important commonality shared between humans and non-human primates -- likewise, so it seems, is the desire to be free. In the early hours one morning, a group of eight capuchin monkeys made a remarkably clever escape from a zoo in Brazil. Much to the surprise of staffers at the small facility, the daring monkeys appear to have used a stone tool to break the locks of their enclosure before fleeing into the surrounding forest.

Of the eight monkey to escape the facility in the Brazilian state of Paraná, officials have only managed to capture four so far. Zoo coordinator Gladis Dalamina told Globo (in Spanish) that fruit-lined cage traps were successful in capturing three of the monkeys in the hours after the break out. The forth was found a day later after it broke into a nearby restaurant.

"It was a surprise because this isn't the jungle here, and to have [a monkey] enter my establishment," said the restaurant owner. "It was fun."

Dalamina says that he and his staff will continue to try to track down the rest of the escapees, but that he thinks he's already nabbed the brains of the zoo-break -- an older monkey named Ceará, along with his girlfriend Amarela. According to officials, this isn't the first time monkeys have tried to escape the small community zoo, though using a stone tool has been their most surprising and effective method yet.

"Their job is to run. Our's is to catch."

Capuchin monkeys are thought to be the most intelligent of the New World monkeys, exhibiting a remarkable ability to use stone tools. Researchers have observed capuchins in the wild gathering rocks, often collected from great distances away, to help them to crack open hard nuts. This skill is passed on generationally as younger monkeys learn by watching their elders.

It is my personal belief the reason the true intelligence level of animals is not recognized by humans because we refuse to recognize that we may not be the most intelligent beings on the planet. No animal has the excessive, obsessive need for more that we humans have. Animals on the other hand take only what they need, leave what they don't need; and, sometimes, accidentally plant some more while providing a perfectly organic, non-toxic fertilizer to nourish the tiny seedling to come. When they come back to that spot again, there is still food to be found.

We go back to the same spot again and we find desertification of the land; damaged ecosystems; displaced species; polluted rivers; toxic land; and on ad nauseum.

Science feels that applying this same tool usage to the novel task of breaking locks; however, indicates an extraordinary use of logic to solve the unnatural dilemma of their captivity. But what's more, perhaps, is the fundamental desire which guided their actions: the longing to be free.

I say the intelligence has always been there, we just haven't been able to recognize it.

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