What animals are capable of tool use?



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    Many primates have been recorded using stones or sticks to obtain food; this fits the definition of “tool” as a manipulable object used to achieve a tool. Birds, especially corvids (crows, ravens, blue jays, etc) and a certain type of vulture, do the same. An example of this type of tool use would be sticking a thin twig in a termite colony and pulling out individuals to eat, or breaking an egg by dropping a rock on it.

    What other animals use tools depends on your definition of a tool. Many scientists consider specialized body parts and the materials they secrete to be tools; in this case, spiders using webs and angler fish luring in other fish with parts of their body would all be tool-users. A variation on this is the use of another living creature as a tool; clown fish and boxer crabs use sea anenomes to protect them, while leaf-cutter ants use leaves to provide fertilizer to grow the fungus they eat. Primates, including humans, are even capable of using members of our own species to resolve problems through manipulation. Looking at tools this way, there are members of nearly every phylum of animal that use tools.

    Taking the very narrow view of a tool as an object that an animal changes from its natural state in order to accomplish ends, like a flint knife or several twigs tied together, only higher primates are thought to possess this skill.

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