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Wild monkeys make sharp stone tools, but they might not realize it, scientists say

Los Angeles Times

It does not pay to underestimate a monkey with a rock. Scientists studying the stone-smashing habits of bearded capuchin monkeys in Brazil have found that the primates inadvertently produce stone flakes that look very similar to the flakes used as cutting tools by early humans. The findings, published in the journal Nature, could snarl the links that paleoanthropologists make between early Stone Age artifacts and the emergence of primitive human technology. "It does raise interesting questions about the level of cognitive complexity -- how intelligent a hominin has to be in order to produce what we thought was a sophisticated technology," said lead author Tomos Proffitt, a paleoanthropologist at Oxford University. When anthropologists explore early human settlements, they typically search for signs of tool use, whether by looking at the cuts on butchered animal bones or finding the tools themselves.


Capuchin monkeys use stone tools to crack open cashew nuts - and expand the field of non-human archaeology

Los Angeles Times

The semi-arid region of northeast Brazil offers little for a monkey to eat, except for a variety of hard-shelled fruits and seeds. So when capuchins arrived in this region about half a million years ago, they needed to find a way to access the only food available to them. One ancient bearded capuchin looked at a cashew fruit and figured out how to crack it open with a rock. In doing so, he or she may have made monkey history by opening up a brand-new habitat for the species. "It may be that part of the reason that capuchins were able to colonize this area is that they found a technological solution -- stone tool use -- to overcome these plant defenses," said University of Oxford primate archaeologist Michael Haslam.


Plat.One acquisition marks start of 2B IoT investment plan for SAP

PCWorld

SAP has bought IoT software developer Plat.One, marking the start of a plan to invest US 2 billion in the internet of things over the next five years. Some of those billions will be spent on the creation of IoT development labs around the world, SAP said Wednesday. It already has plans for such labs in Berlin, Johannesburg, Munich, Palo Alto, Shanghai and São Leopoldo in Brazil. The company is also rolling out a series of "jump-start" and "accelerator" IoT software packages for particular industries, to help them monitor and control equipment. Another compoent of SAP's IoT plan is to acquire new businesses, the latest of which is Plat.One.


Who will win the 2016 Nobel Peace prize?

Al Jazeera

United Nations, New York - It seemed like a no-brainer for Nobel Peace Prize judges. A deal between Colombia's leaders and Marxist rebels to end a bloody, 52-year-old war was, by most standards, deserving of the top global award for dovishness. Colombian voters had other plans. Days before the announcement of the 2016 peace prize winner on Friday, they rejected the bargain with FARC rebel fighters by a slim margin in a shock referendum result that upended years of negotiations. As Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos scrambled to salvage his trademark peace deal, developments in South America were doubtless being tracked by the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee 9,000km away in Oslo.


Russian man offers to take part in first human head transplant

The Independent - Tech

Valery Spiridonov, 31: Russian tech geek who runs an educational software company from his home east of Moscow. Because he has Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, a genetic disorder that wastes muscles and motor neurons, he is physically capable of little beyond feeding himself, steering his wheelchair with a joystick, and typing. The disease is usually fatal, and doctors expected him to be dead by now. Xiaoping Ren, 55: Chinese surgeon who, when he lived in the United States, was on the team that performed the first successful hand transplant. He practiced for it by switching pigs' forelegs, and he keeps in his office a bronzed pig ear that the transplant team sent him as a trophy.