Use of Tools by the Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus


THE use of natural objects as tools by free-living vertebrates has, so far as we know, been reported for four species only—the chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes; the gorilla, Gorilla gorilla; the Californian sea otter, Latax lutris; and the Galapagos woodpecker finch, Camarhynchus pallidus. Chimpanzees have been observed to use rocks to break open hard food1; to insert sticks into honey2, to use sticks and stems for feeding on termites and ants3, and to use leaves for sopping up water to drink3 and also for wiping their bodies3,4. A gorilla is reported to have pulled fruit towards it with a crooked stick5. The sea otter uses rocks for breaking open shell fish6, and the woodpecker finch probes insects from their holes with spines or short twigs7.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Beatty, H., J. Mammal., 32, 118 (1951).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Merfield, F. G., and Miller, H., Gorillas Were My Neighbours (London, 1956).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Goodall, J., Nature, 201, 1264 (1964).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Kortlandt, A., and Kooij, M., Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond., 10, 61 (1963).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Pitman, C. R. S., Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 105, 477 (1935).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Fisher, E. M., J. Mammal., 21, 132 (1940).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Gifford, E. W., Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., 2, 189 (1919).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Mackworth-Praed, C. W., and Grant, C. H. B., Birds of Eastern and North Eastern Africa, 1, 136 (Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Toronto, 1952).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

VAN LAWICK-GOODALL, J., VAN LAWICK-GOODALL, H. Use of Tools by the Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus. Nature 212, 1468–1469 (1966).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.