Tool use and animals: How birds are chipping away at its definition


Tool use among animals is nothing new; the definition has been ever evolving as new examples are brought forth for examination. Eleven variations now exist of the original definition, with the most current stated,

…(as the) external employment of an unattached or manipulatable attached environmental object to alter more efficiently the form position, or condition of another object, another organism, or the user itself, when the user holds and directly manipulates the tool during or prior to use and is responsible for the proper and effective orientation of the tool.

by Dr. Robert Shumaker, in his book, Animal Tool Behavior: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals. Using these terms, a segue is offered for animals classified as “borderline” tool users, to be re-considered for categorization as tool users. Such would be the case of the Great Spotted Woodpecker.

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