Crows Bend Hooks, etc?

Supposedly, scientists at Oxford recently observed a crow bend a wire into a hook and use the hook to obtain food. I believe this was observed 9x, and they claim that no other animal, not even monkeys, have been observed to use a tool.

That’s hard to believe. A monkey has never been observed to use a stick or bone to pound on something? Surely, this is using an object as a tool to obtain the desired result of producing a sound. Maybe the scientisits’ definitions are too limiting?
Don’t some/all monkeys (apes, etc.) have posable thumbs? And, if so, I really what have we observed them doing with them?

Missing the link,

  • Jinx

I believe the difference here is that the crow took a straight wire and bent it in order to make the tool - aparrently displaying an understanding of cause and effect. The best monkeys have ever done is to find a stick and use it to dig up food - they haven’t been able to alter the tool to improve it.


I think you can see a video at this cite

Figures that it’s a she. Probably got bored while the male crow was changing channels and decided to do something constructive.

I believe the thing is that the crow created the tool and not just used it.

This isn’t the first instance of tool building in animals. Chimps have been known to alter twigs in order to “fish” ants out of antholes. My understanding is that this is the first time we’ve seen tool building out of articles not found in the animal’s natural habitat. A meaningless distinction, IMHO, but one nonetheless.

I believe that the use of sticks by chimps for ant/termite collection is more complex than it first appears; I seem to recall that a fair bit of work goes into selecting a stick with exactly the right properties.

Also some primates are known to use rocks or logs as hammers to crack large nuts and there’s a species of finch somewhere that uses thorns to pick out insect larvae from their burrows because it’s beak is too short.

I saw a programme very recently (no cite sorry, but perhaps Wildlife on One - BBC) about crows taking nuts and dropping them onto the road for cars to break for them. Cleverer still, they started dropping them onto pedestrian crossings and then, when the crossing signal sounded, swooping down to eat them, lessening their chances of injury.

Did anyone else see this one?

I heard of a Crow that stole a fisherman’s fish.

Apparently some guy was into ice fishing and would leave his pole and bait in the water and leave. He’d return the next morning to collect anything that might have taken the bait the following day. After awhile he kept coming back to find his catch had been stolen. After this happened several times he went off and hid to catch the fould thief. To his surprise the thief was a crow. What is amazing about this story is first the crow had to determine if something had actually been caught to bother working on getting the fish. After that the crow would garb the fishing line with its beak, pull-up and then step on the line so the line didn’t get pulled back in. Rinse and repeat till it had its fish.

So, the crow was able to watch the fisherman and identify that a stick with string in the water meant a fish might be at the end. It learned to tell if and when a fish had been caught and it learned to hold the fishing line in its claws so it could continue to pull the fish up. All-in-all a pretty remarkable feat of problem solving for a bird-brained animal (we might need to rethink the use of that particular slander).

I’m pretty sure the big deal with the crow is tool building (not just use) had never been witnessed in any animal ‘less’ than primates.