White-shouldered capuchin

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White-shouldered capuchin (Cebus capucinus)


White-shouldered capuchins (Cebus capucinus) are medium-sized mammals of the Capuchin family (Cebidae).

They are spread in the jungles of Central America and in the most northwestern parts of South America. They live in groups that can number more than 20 specimens, both male and female.

The white-shouldered capuchin is omnivorous. Its main food consists of fruit and insects. It eats at all levels of the forest as well as on the ground. Its methods of finding food include stripping cortex from trees, rummaging through foliage, breaking dead branches, rolling on stones and using them as an anvil to break hard fruit. The prehensile tail helps the nutrition by supporting the primate when searching for food under the branches.

One of the unusual features of the capuchin's kinship structure compared to other primate species is the high degree of inbreeding within groups, which results from the long residence of the alpha male, who produces majority of the offspring. In this species, alpha males are known to retain their positions for up to 17 years, and this puts them in the unusual position of being available for progeny of their daughters and granddaughters, who produce their first offspring at the age of around 6-7. However, the alpha male does not usually mate with his own daughters, even though he is a father of almost the whole offspring.

Capuchins are considered to be some of the most intelligent New World monkeys; they are the subject of many behavioral and intelligence studies. Capuchins' intelligence is thought to be an adaptation that aids their nutritional habits. They rely on ephemeral food sources that may be difficult to find. In a particular study conducted in 2007, capuchins were found to be among the ten most intelligent primates – in second place after the spider-monkeys among the New World monkeys.