The Loh Down On Science

Nutcase

Caribbean monkey's got talent.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet Pinocchio--a big-nosed rhesus monkey in Puerto Rico with a special skill. Of the thousand island monkeys, only he can crack a coconut.

Harvard's Jordan Comins discovered Pinocchio's unique ability.

His method: Pick up a coconut and bite off the husk. Then bowl the nut to a nearby cement dock. Squat over it, grip with both hands, granny toss it into the air, and watch it crash against the dock.

Repeat until you've got, well, Rhesus pieces.

Seems basic, but neither the bowling nor the toss have been seen in monkeys. Pinocchio invented the process.

The fruit of Pinocchio's labor is abundant and nutritious--but none of his fellow islanders have taken advantage. Looks like innovation in its infancy.

Will others catch on or will the novel act die with its inventor? The answers could help clarify why some but not other innovative behaviors spread in a culture.

And why sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. Ah, I still like Rhesus pieces. That was good, no?



The Loh Down on Science, online, at lohdown.org. Produced by 89.3 KPCC and the California Institute of Technology, and made possible by TIAA-CREF.

Follow us on Twitter at LohDown.


blog comments powered by Disqus