Interesting new study authored by Dorothy Fragaszy in the department of psychology and several collaborating authors from around the world:
A new study from a group of researchers, led by University of Georgia behavioral scientist Dorothy Fragaszy, reports that artifacts—objects similar to the ball or shovel—are an important component in technical learning by nonhuman species. The study, published Oct. 7 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, documents the work of two groups of researchers investigating cases of habitual tool use in wild chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys.
The two groups of researchers discovered they were working along parallel lines and observing similar findings. They organized the data from the separate species together in a special issue of the journal.
Tool use in wild animals has long been an area of broad interest among the scientific community. The researchers focused on the use of durable tools and artifacts, especially among younger individuals, to conclude that experience with tools and the opportunity to use them have an enduring impact on the development of traditional technologies in nonhumans.
Fragaszy has spent a great deal of her career studying capuchin monkeys, establishing a wide authority of expertise in behavioral science. When she discovered that a different group studying a different species had established very similar results, the two groups used each other's work to further solidify their findings. This is strong, fundamental science, and the larger group authoring this particular study has accomplished important work on an elusive aspect of human development. Fragaszy, in the final quote in the press release:
"When the circumstances support it, and we think artifacts are an important part of these supporting circumstances, then cognitively less complex individuals-species that don't have language, that don't have explicit teaching, that don't have human forms of culture-they also can acquire and maintain complicated, technical traditions."
Image: Capuchin monkey high above a plain in Brazil, courtesy of D. Fragaszy.