Two Million Years discussed on Science Friday

Science Friday


The need for sort of stricter guidelines clear regulations to set up for potential human exploration because if you know once humans land on you know if humans go to mars which you know spacex says it wants to do nasa says it wants to do by the twenty thirties you know we're probably going to bring our microbes with us and what we found from life on earth is that earth microbes are really good at colonizing new environments and so there's this worry that we might contaminate mars with our own life and then foul up the search for you know is there actual martian life out there or maybe there was billions of years ago so it's important to do that before all these these other rockets not state actors get into space i i want to turn to your your next story here and this is really interesting so a group of monkeys that seems to have entered the stone age tells about this yeah so you know on this island called he got her own off the coast of panama there'd been kind of this rumor that there were monkeys there that use stone tools some scientists at this massoni and reese tropical research institute in panama had heard about it and they finally went and investigated last year they set up some camera traps and what they found kind of blew their minds these monkeys capuchin monkeys ciba's cappuccinos their little sort of cat sized animals with white faces and long tails and they were actually taking large stones stones almost half the size of their body weight and smashing them down onto flat rocks and and logs and using that to crack open coconuts and other kinds of nuts hermit crabs snails and get tasty morsels inside so this is a stone tool it's like a hammer and anvil that they're using to access food and that's exciting because this is only the fourth nonhuman primates species it's ever been observed with this kind of behavior using a stone tool and it could help scientists understand you know what causes a species to start picking up stones and using them as tools and also why our own set ancestors might have entered the stoneage more than two million years ago but it's just these monkeys in this one place other monkeys aren't doing this yeah that's the really weird thing is that the you know so this island is pretty big it's full of forests and it's inhabited with monkeys and they're similar islands nearby that have the same species of monkey and yet the only only one group of cappuccinos was showing this behavior and actually the scientists tried leaving out some experimental rocks in other parts of the island to see if the monkeys might pick them up and start using them and the monkeys totally ignored them like they were not interested unless it was this one particular group and so that's a really strange thing because you would think that if this is an evolutionary advantageous behavior and that helps them to sort of get at more food and get more resources than the the behavior with spread especially because these captions are really fast learners they're very smart and so it actually sets up a really interesting scientific question allowing them to compare you know why does one group adopt this while another group doesn't it's so interesting sarah kaplan the science reporter at the washington post joins us from washington today thank you so much for bringing us these stories yeah thank you after the break we're going to talk about john wesley powell who was a nineteenth century explorer who developed early ideas about climate science.

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