A Group of Monkeys in Panama Have Entered Their Own Stone Age

A group of white-faced capuchin monkeys in Panama has begun using stone tools to feed themselves, thus entering their own Stone Age. They’re the second group of monkeys that researchers have observed using tools in the past two years, providing intriguing insights into humans’ own evolution.

The Panamanian group lives on the small island of Jicarón, which is part of Coiba National Park. One group of monkeys is particularly adept with its stones, using them to crack open coconuts, snails, and nuts. Researchers first reported the Jicaron monkeys’ use of stone tools in 2004, but a team returned to the island in 2017 to record and document their findings.


Their study included a few surprises. First, though capuchin monkeys live on all three islands that make up Coiba National Park, only the monkeys on Jicaron demonstrate tool use. Second, the males that use tools move from group to group, but the other groups of monkeys don’t appear to learn the behavior. Only a handful of males hold the knowledge.

Discovering primates using tools in the wild is rare. In captivity, primates have long used tools because they have nothing but time. But the real world holds any number of hazards that animals don’t encounter in captivity — predators and habitat encroachment among them. Scientists speculate that the reason the Panamanian capuchins have mastered their hammer-and-anvil cracking technique is that there are no predators on Jicarón, so the monkeys can spend more time on the ground rather than retreating to the tree canopy.

What’s more, when wild primates or other wild animals do use tools, they’re almost always plant-based tools, usually sticks or twigs. Stone tools are very rare, and scientists speculate that might be because appropriately sized stones are relatively rare in wild primate habitats, while the components of plant tools are common.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, a group of scientists from Oxford University and University of São Paulo published research in 2016 that shows a different group of capuchin monkeys has mastered the tricky task of cashew harvesting — and they’ve been at it for centuries.

In fact, as a result of this discovery scientists have christened a new field of study: primate archaeology. In Brazil, capuchin monkeys have been living in their own Stone Age for about 1,000 years. Separately, a group of chimpanzees in the Ivory Coast have been using stone hammers to crack nuts for more than 4,000 years.

All of these discoveries hint at the rich and mysterious lives lived by our primate cousins as we evolved separately, but side-by-side. And, given the habitat requirements that underwrite stone tool use, the new discoveries strongly suggest that any Stone Age — including the one that benefited our own ancestors — involves a strong element of luck. And once a Stone Age is achieved, a new world of food opportunities become available, which helps the group as a whole thrive.

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Weeks after a bungled testing kit rollout from President Donald Trump's CDC, Governors in rural areas are still having trouble obtaining an adequate number of testing kits to properly determine just how quickly the virus is spreading throughout their communities.

According to a leaked phone call between Trump, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci, and a group of rural state governors, the President is once again skeptical that equipment crucial to slowing the spread of the virus is actually necessary.

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Despite the strong possibility of spreading the virus that's caused a national health crisis in the United States, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. came under fire last week for ordering university faculty back to campus and for giving students the option to return as well.

Falwell is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, and has previously echoed Trump's initial dismissals of the threat posed by the highly contagious virus. He even previously claimed that the virus was a biological weapon engineered by enemies of the United States.

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C-SPAN

If you think Fox News is the most loyal network to President Donald Trump, you likely haven't heard of One America News Network, or OAN.

The unabashedly pro-Trump network—largely considered a far-Right fringe outlet—has enjoyed expanded viewership over recent years thanks to glowing reviews from the President.

It's even been added to the prestigious White House press pool.

People were reminded of the network's bizarre Trump-era ascension during Monday's White House press briefing regarding the pandemic that—at the time of this writing—has resulted in over 3,000 deaths across the United States.

OAN's White House correspondent Chanel Rion compared the growing number of deaths from the pandemic to abortion procedures, asking Trump if abortions should be suspended all together.

The question flummoxed Trump himself.

Watch below.

Rion said:

"2,405 Americans have died from [the virus] in the last 60 days. Meanwhile, you have 2,369 children who are killed by their mothers through elective abortions each day. That's 16 and a half thousand children killed every week. Two states have suspended elective abortion to make more resources available...Should more states be doing the same?"

Even Trump seemed confused by the question, and notably didn't wade into the abortion aspect of the question:

"I think what we're doing, we're trying to, as a group ,governors—and that's Republicans and Democrats—we're just working together to solve this problem. What you're mentioning has been going on for a long time and it's a sad event, a lot of sad events in this country. But what we're doing now is working on the virus...and I think we're doing a great job—as good a job as you can possibly do."

People noticed that even Trump—either purposely or otherwise—didn't take the bait from one of his favorite networks.




Rion, who is Asian-American, previously made headlines when she asked Trump—who'd been criticized for describing the virus as "Chinese Virus"—if the phrase "Chinese food" was racist.

Her questions, while satiating viewers who prioritize "owning the libs" over potentially lifesaving information, have only confirmed the degradation of the press corps under the Trump era.




OAN's only redeemable quality? It doesn't claim to be "fair and balanced."


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Even in the face of a global pandemic, President Donald Trump hasn't dispensed with his typical pettiness.

The President made that perfectly clear on Sunday afternoon, as deaths caused by the national health crisis continued to increase.

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JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images // Hernando County Sheriff

After weeks of dismissing the current pandemic as little more than a flu overblown by the media to undermine his presidency, President Donald Trump and his administration are finally beginning to acknowledge the severity of the threat posed by the virus that's upended daily life in the United States.

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne apparently hadn't gotten that memo.

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President Donald Trump held his pandemic press briefing in the Rose Garden on Sunday—but his mood was far from rosy.

One particularly heated exchange came when he took a question from PBS NewsHour's White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.

Alcindor asked Trump about the the skepticism he expressed that New York—the epicenter of the health crisis facing the United States—was exaggerating the number of lifesaving ventilators it needs to help curb the virus.

Trump interrupted Alcindor, claiming he "didn't say" that, then proceeded to berate her for her so-called "threatening" question.

Watch below.

Alcindor asked:

"You've said repeatedly that you think that some of the equipment governors are requesting, they don't actually need. You said New York might not need 30 thousand—"

Trump interrupted:

"I didn't say that. I didn't say that. Why don't you people...why don't you act in a little more positive? It's always trying to get me. Getcha, getcha. You know what, that's why nobody trusts the media anymore."

Though the President didn't reciprocate, Alcindor remained professional and repeated her question despite the President's attacks on her journalistic integrity in front of her colleagues.

What's more, Alcindor was right—and video proves it.

Alcindor referred to statements Trump made on far-right Fox News host Sean Hannity's show.

Watch below.

Trump said:

"I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they're going to be. I don't believe you need 40 thousand or 30 thousand ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, they'll have two ventilators and now all of a sudden they're saying, 'can we have 30 thousand ventilators?'"

Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made clear that New York has yet to reach the height of the pandemic. The current number of ventilators is not enough to treat all of the infections to come, which could force doctors into rationing them and choosing not to treat patients with less optimistic prognoses.

Alcindor later pointed out that Trump did, in fact, express skepticism that New York was asking for ventilators they didn't need.

People called Trump out for responding to his own words with petty attacks.



They praised Alcindor for holding him accountable when so many others won't.




This was far from the first time Trump personally attacked Alcindor for doing her job.

Astonishingly, Trump denied his own words again in the same press conference when CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond asked Trump to elaborate on his Friday statements that governors aren't being "appreciative" enough of him and his administration.

If a President isn't beholden to congressional oversight, basic transparency, and even his own words, how can he be beholden to the American people?

For more stories of Trump's ineptitude from people who were there, check out A Very Stable Genius, available here.