How similar are nut-cracking and stone-flaking? A functional approach to percussive technology

  • Bril B
  • Parry R
  • Dietrich G
  • 27


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 11


    Citations of this article.


Various authors have suggested similarities between tool use in early hominins and chimpanzees. This has been particularly evident in studies of nut-cracking which is considered to be the most complex skill exhibited by wild apes, and has also been interpreted as a precursor of more complex stone-flaking abilities. It has been argued that there is no major qualitative difference between what the chimpanzee does when he cracks a nut and what early hominins did when they detached a flake from a core. In this paper, similarities and differences between skills involved in stone-flaking and nut-cracking are explored through an experimental protocol with human subjects performing both tasks. We suggest that a 'functional' approach to percussive action, based on the distinction between functional parameters that characterize each task and parameters that characterize the agent's actions and movements, is a fruitful method for understanding those constraints which need to be mastered to perform each task successfully, and subsequently, the nature of skill involved in both tasks.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text


  • Blandine Bril

  • Ross Parry

  • Gilles Dietrich

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free