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Crow Tools

October 25, 2010

Crows that use tools get a significant nutritional benefit.


The tools of crow survival…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists once thought that only humans use tools. But tool use has now been documented in a number of species, from elephants to octopi. For instance, New Caledonian crows use sticks to remove beetle larvae from inside the trunks of trees. Oxford zoologist Christian Rutz and his colleagues analyzed chemical signatures left in feathers and blood to determine what proportion of the birds’ energy intake consists of larvae. They found that the grubs account for over 40% of the fat and about 15% of the protein in their diet.

CHRISTIAN RUTZ (Oxford University):
It pays off to be a good tool-user. If you are a good tool-user, you have access to a nutritionally very rewarding but otherwise hidden food source.

He says successful tool users are more likely to survive and pass on their genes to future generations. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.