Non-Humans Playing Catch

Just curious, is there any animal other than humans who throw objects to (not AT) one another as a method of efficiently transferring objects over short distances?

I can’t think of any. It seems to me that this would only arise as an advantage if there was a highly coordinated cooperation between members requiring them to share limited resources to efficiently accomplish a common goal.

Do other animals show this level of cooperation but lack the skills necessary to use a “throw and catch” technique? Or do they simply not cooperate on this level of complexity?

I’ve seen Bottlenosed Dolphins toss debris back and forth between each other while following a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, but I don’t think that is what you were referring to.

Just to be clear they are “tossing debris” with their snouts… not their flippers or flukes (tails)!

I’ve heard of octopi playing catch with a pill bottle, shooting it to each other with their siphons.

I can’t remember exactly where I read it. Probably Smithsonian Magazine.

So would this behavior be more in the category of play as opposed to a useful adaptation for achieving a common goal?

It’s not a ‘common goal’ by itself. It’s a neccasry behaviour where there is an important object not readily available. Which seemms to presuppose tool-making.

eg: Why throw a rock to someone else to use, when there’s hundreds at their feet? But if you have a sharpened rock…

I have seen footage of Orca(s {?}) playing catch with baby seals… Looked like fun… unless you are the seal

and they (the “Killer Whales”) were definitely playing, not working.

I tend to disagree - there are 2 important points that I tried to address in my original post:

  1. a limited resource
    As you already pointed out, if rocks are all around there is no point in sharing one unless it has some special property.

  2. A common goal
    Lets’ take as an example, monkeys using twigs to fish for termites; let’s then suppose that twigs are rare or hard to obtain; unless there is a COMMON goal between us, my self preservation instinct instructs me to tell you to go find your own twig, because this one is mine and I’m keeping it. Unless there is some benefit to me I have little or no immediate motivation to give up what I already have. If on the other hand there is some tactical advantage to our cooperation I may be willing to share resources with other members knowing that in the end it will be to my benefit.
    On the topic of orcas, I’ve seen them throw seals in the air. I’ve never seen them throw one in the direction of another orca with the apparent intent of letting that other orca take controll of it. verbenabeast, did you actually see them throwing the seal TO one another?

I’ve also seen footage (possibly the same footage) of orcas “playing” with a seal. They were definately playing, with no intention of eating the poor little guy. In a way it reminded me of kids on a playground playing with a ball. Too bad the “ball” was still alive in this case. They were definately throwing the seal to one another, not just tossing it up in the air, and they definately had no intention of eating the little guy.

Elephants (in captivity; I don’t know if they were trained to do it):

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen otters (on a TV docu) playing/tossing/passing things too, but I can’t find a cite on it.