The MacGyvers of the Animal World

10 Animals That Use Tools

The article that I picked for today lists ten animals that have proven to be the MacGyvers of the animal world and would definitely rank among the best Eagle Scouts. I already knew of some of the amazing abilities of primates and crows, but I didn’t know animals like octopuses or elephants can use makeshift tools too. The article covers ten animals total (Chimps, Crows, Orangutans, Elephants, Dolphins, Sea Otters, Gorillas, Octopuses, Macaques, and Rodents), but I’m just going to hit on my favorite animal behaviors:

Crows: These seemingly ordinary birds exhibit some extraordinary situational understanding and tool-use abilities. I found this youtube video that shows one experiment that requires a crow to complete multiple steps in order to get a treat. Additionally, “researchers have even discovered that crows might learn to drop stones in pitchers to raise the height of water inside.”

Orangutans: Orangutans have not only developed a way to create whistles from leaves to ward off predators, they have also been able to pass this skill down to future generations. “This apparently marks the first time an animal has been known to use a tool to help it communicate and is mounting evidence that culture – defined as knowledge passed from one generation to the next – isn’t something unique to us humans.”

Dolphins: The article mentions dolphins using marine sponges to stir up sand to uncover prey, but this video elaborates on a behavior shown by dolphins called “conching.” Dolphins near Australia frequently use conch shells to trap and eat fish.

Octopuses: These aquatic invertebrates have perhaps taken up a lesson in protection from hermit crabs or other shelled sea creatures. Octopuses have been shown to carry around coconut shells as portable armor. They can hide under the shells when they need protection or carry the shells around using their tentacles as stilts until they need the shell again. “These new findings are apparently the first reported instance of an invertebrate that acquires tools for later use.” VIDEO

Those behaviors were my favorite four, but it was difficult to narrow them down. Personally, I would love to see what a crow could do with a bubblegum wrapper, paperclip, and a bobbi pin. They would probably give the real MacGyver a run for his money. I wonder if I could put something like that on my resume, “I am as creative as a crow, and I have porpoise-like problem-solving skills…”

Photo Credit: Christian Gloor (wikicommons)

Photo Credit: Christian Gloor (wikicommons)

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