Science. Communication. Community.
Next time you can’t bear to floss, consider this: a macaque might steal for such luxury. A charming new-ish book compiles and systematizes examples of tool use by our neighbors.
Tool use. It’s an irresistible topic – but one that’s often treated in a one-off fashion by researchers or writers hoping for splashy coverage. Animal Tool Behavior offers quite the opposite: a lively overview of studies documenting all manner of tool-use by all manner of species. This 2011 tome is the joint work of three researchers: Benjamin Beck, Robert Shumaker, and Kristina Walkup. The matching quiz below offers a smattering of the diversity to in their book. (As for its elegant organization — which allows for quick comparisons across species — that you’ll have to see for yourself.) Enjoy!
a. Push Over – pilfer clothes from soldiers and then roll boulders at pursuers
b. Insert and Probe – use human hair for floss
c. Symbolize – treat leaf bundles as dolls
d. Hammer – use pebbles, twig bits, or seeds to pound shut burrows
e. Throw – shoot water at insects, observers’ eyes and lit cigarettes
f. Anoint – anoint oneself with rattlesnake scent
g. Absorb – dunk prey in water, perhaps to create a hydration aid