Macaques

Using stone tools to prey on other animals

Macaques (Macaca sp.) are one of the most widespread primate groups, with over a dozen species ranging from eastern Asia to northern Africa. While various macaque groups have been suggested to show cultural behaviours (e.g., Japanese macaques washing potatoes or handling stones) only one species is currently known to use tools in the wild. These are the long-tailed macaques of Southeast Asia (Macaca fascicularis aurea). Unusual aspects of long-tailed macaque tool use include its concentration along intertidal coasts, and a focus on using stone tools to process other animals, including a wide variety of shellfish and crabs.

The PRIMARCH project conducts field research with wild Macaca fascicularis aurea groups at two sites in Thailand: Laem Son National Park and Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. Research at these sites is directed by Prof. Suchinda Malaivijitnond and Dr Michael Gumert.

Further Information:

Project Sea Monkey

Key references:

Carpenter, A., 1887. Monkeys opening oysters. Nature 36, 53.

Gumert, M., Fuentes, A., Jones-Engel, L. (Eds), 2011. Monkeys on the Edge. Ecology and management of long-tailed macaques and their interface with humans. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Gumert, M., Hoong, L. K., Malaivijitnond, S., 2011. Sex differences in the stone tool-use behavior of a wild population of Burmese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis aurea). American Journal of Primatology 73, 1-11.

Gumert, M., Kluck, M., Malaivijitnond, S., 2009. The physical characteristics and usage patterns of stone axe and pounding hammers used by long-tailed macaques in the Andaman Sea region of Thailand. American Journal of Primatology 71, 594-608.

Gumert, M., Malaivijitnond, S., 2012. Marine prey processed with stone tools by Burmese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis aurea) in intertidal habitats. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 149, 447-457.

Haslam M., Gumert M., Biro D., Carvalho S., Malaivijitnond S., 2013. Use-wear patterns on wild macaque stone tools reveal their behavioural history. PLoS One 8:72872.

Malaivijitnond, S., Lekprayoon, C., Tandavanittj, N., Panha, S., Cheewatham, C., Hamada, Y., 2007. Stone-tool usage by Thai long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis). American Journal of Primatology 69, 227-233.

Tan A., Tan S.H., Vyas D., Malaivijitnond S., Gumert M. 2015. There is more than one way to crack an oyster: identifying variation in Burmese long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis aurea) stone-tool use. PLoS One 10, e0124733.

Copyright @ 2015 Primate Archaeology, All Rights Reserved