24 February 2007

Yeurgh. Tool-making crows, yet!

It seems that monkeys aren’t the only tool-making animals, New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) do it, too.

Being raced by a monkey is kind of believable, but having a noisy, violent, intrusive bird as a competitor is kind of annoying. (-:

New Caledonian crows use tools to forage for invertebrates in dead wood. They use at least four different tool types, including tools cut from the thorny edges of leaves of Pandanus trees. These tools are produced in a series of manufacturing steps and have complex shapes — they are the most sophisticated animal tools yet discovered.

The shape of Pandanus tools varies regionally, and it has been suggested that this may be the result of cultural transmission of tool designs, with crows learning from relatives and other members of social groups how to manufacture and use particular designs. In other words, it is conceivable that these crows possess a culture of tool technology — akin to that found in our own species.

I’ll definitely be barracking for the local corellas, now. (-:

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