Squirrel monkeys in a Stanford University lab learned how to eat and drink from cups—a first for the species using containers to carry food.
The monkeys’ food was given in large chunks—too large to eat at once—so they learned to use the cups to store the rest.
Dorothy Fragaszy, UGA psychology professor and director of the Franklin College’s Primate Cognition and Behavior Lab, commented on the story for New Scientist.
“It’s not surprising that at least one of them serendipitously put a piece of chow in a cup or picked up a cup with chow in it,” said Fragaszy, who recently reported skilled use of stone anvils by capuchin monkeys to crack open nuts. “The unexpected part of the story is that the monkeys that happened to do this developed the habit of doing it routinely, so they now collect a cup when they go to collect chow, and others nearby can learn to perform the same actions as the pioneer.”