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Photo of Fish Using a Rock to Open a Clam

Mon, 07/11/2011 - 5:21am
Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
photo of a blackspot tuskfish using a rock to crack open a clam

Blackspot tuskfish using a rock to crack open a clam. Photo by Scott Gardner

Diver Snaps First Photo of Fish Using Tools

While exploring Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, professional diver Scott Gardner heard an odd cracking sound and swam over to investigate. What he found was a footlong blackspot tuskfish (Choerodon schoenleinii) holding a clam in its mouth and whacking it against a rock. Soon the shell gave way, and the fish gobbled up the bivalve, spat out the shell fragments, and swam off. Fortunately, Gardner had a camera handy and snapped what seem to be the first photographs of a wild fish using a tool.

Tool use, once thought to be the distinctive hallmark of human intelligence, has been identified in a wide variety of animals in recent decades…

There have also been a handful of reports of fish cracking open hard-shelled prey, such as bivalves and sea urchins, by banging them on rocks or coral, but there’s no photo or video evidence to back it up, according to Culum Brown, a behavioral ecologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and a co-author of the present paper, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Coral Reefs.

The more we learn about animals the more tool use we find. It is continually interesting to see the wide variety of behavior documented.

Related: Bird Using Bait to FishDolphins Using Tools to HuntOrangutan Attempts to Fish with SpearAncient Chimps Used Stone “Hammers”

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