More Insight

Monday, March 31, 2008

Animals Using Tools

As this NeuroPhilosophy post notes, it was long thought that only primates and humans had evolved to learn to use tools to accomplish certain tasks. But as the video shows, a rodent species, degus, learned the use of a rake to get food.

And Birds have been shown to use tools for tasks as varied as
bending a wire into a hook to retrieve food in the lab

And in the wild

and devise clever ways to open hard-shelled nuts

But most astonishing is the video of this elephant using a paintbrush to paint a better picture of an elephant than I could certainly ever accomplish.

Regardless of whether any of these animals were "trained" to use these tools or not behind the scenes, the video proof of the elephant painting and the gasps of amazement from the crowd (and filmers) as it paints in real time show at the very least the intrinsic ability to use tools for special tasks like getting food or artistic expression outside the traditional realm of humans and primates alone.

What other special talents previously monopolized by humans lay unmasked in the animal world?

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