Capuchin monkeys have refined their tool use over 3,000 years

Not only do these monkeys use tools, they're developing new, better tools to adapt to their environment.

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  • Archaeologists dug into the ground of an area of a Brazilian national park known to be frequented by capuchin monkeys.
  • They found that over the past 3,000 years, the stone tools that the monkeys use have evolved and changed, marking the first time this kind of development has been observed in a non-human species.
  • The findings underscore the intelligence of the capuchin monkeys and serve as a parallel to our own development.
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Lightning forced human ancestors to become bipedal, Kansas researchers say

Intense lightning could have burned us out of the trees.

Photo credit: YE AUNG THU / AFP / Getty Images
  • A new paper proposes that a couple of supernovae led to the loss of our tree habit, forcing us down to the savannah.
  • The telltale clues are iron-60 isotopes and lots of unexplained charcoal and soot in the geologic record.
  • The theory is an intriguing combination of astronomy, physics, geology, and anthropology.
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Love of instrumental music is linked to intelligence, researchers say

From deejays to Debussy, it's all brain food.

Photo credit: LOIC VENANCE / AFP / Getty Images
  • A new study supports earlier suspicions of a link between intelligence and non-vocal music.
  • This may have to do with a taste for novel experiences way back on the savannah.
  • Purely instrumental music may simply be more fresh for brainiacs.
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New fossils suggest human ancestors evolved in Europe, not Africa

Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.

  • The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
  • Researchers speculate it could be a previously unknown species and one of humanity's earliest evolutionary ancestors.
  • These fossils may change how we view the evolution of our species.
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Why the 'alpha male' stereotype is wrong

Big and strong? That's not what makes an alpha male, says primatolgist Frans de Waal.

  • The cultural notion of an alpha male as a strong, mean aggressor is rampant but wrong. The reality is more complex.
  • Frans de Waal notes two types of alpha males: Bullies and leaders. In chimpanzee society, the former terrorizes the group while the latter mediates conflict.
  • The reign of alpha male bullies usually ends poorly in the wild. Chimpanzee bullies get expelled or even killed by their group, while leader alphas are somewhat democratically kept in power, sometimes for as long as 12 years.
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