Age-related variation in the mechanical properties of foods processed by Sapajus libidinosus

Janine Chalk, Barth W. Wright, Peter W. Lucas, Katherine D. Schuhmacher, Erin R. Vogel, Dorothy Fragaszy, Elisabetta Visalberghi, Patrícia Izar, Brian G. Richmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives The diet of tufted capuchins (Sapajus) is characterized by annual or seasonal incorporation of mechanically protected foods. Reliance on these foods raises questions about the dietary strategies of young individuals that lack strength and experience to access these resources. Previous research has demonstrated differences between the feeding competencies of adult and juvenile tufted capuchins. Here we test the hypothesis that, compared to adults, juveniles will process foods with lower toughness and elastic moduli. Materials and Methods We present data on variation in the toughness and elastic modulus of food tissues processed by Sapajus libidinosus during the dry season at Fazenda Boa Vista, Brazil. Food mechanical property data were collected using a portable universal mechanical tester. Results Results show that food tissues processed by the capuchins showed significant differences in toughness and stiffness. However, we found no relationship between an individual's age and mean or maximum food toughness or elastic modulus, indicating both juvenile and adult S. libidinosus are able to process foods of comparable properties. Discussion Although it has been suggested that juveniles avoid mechanically protected foods, age-related differences in feeding competence are not solely due to variation in food toughness or stiffness. Other factors related to food type (e.g., learning complex behavioral sequences, achieving manual dexterity, obtaining physical strength to lift stone tools, or recognizing subtle cues about food state) combined with food mechanical properties better explain variation in juvenile feeding competency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-209
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


  • elastic modulus
  • juvenile primates
  • mechanically protected foods
  • toughness


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