Scientists in the US have been able to teach a group of primates how to use money and say the creatures' actions mirror how humans consider basic economics.

The team from Yale University, led by psychology professor Laurie Santos, gave a group of capuchin monkeys tokens which could be exchanged for food, an article published in Mental Floss magazine said.

Researchers then set up a "market" where the animals had a choice of offerings available to them and found them to be careful shoppers that considered all the options available to them before making a decision.

When they had grasped this concept, the researchers began experimenting with different economic models – such as offering bargains and more risky choices – and found the monkey's behaviour closely matched that seen in humans in their preferences.

"Whatever mechanism in the brain that's driving these biases is one and the same in capuchin monkeys and in us," said Ms Santos. "That means these strategies are 35 million years old."

If these primates are really good at sniffing out bargains, they might like to visit Cartridge Monkey, where they will find a great range of cheap ink supplies.