Manufacture and use of hook-tools by New Caledonian crows

Abstract

TOOL behaviour in wild birds has been described as mostly stereotyped1,2, and tool manufacture involves little modification of material3–5. Here I report in New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides the manufacture and use of two different types of hook tool to aid prey capture: hooked-twig and stepped-cut barbed pandanus leaf. Crow tool manufacture had three features new to tool use in free-living nonhumans: a high degree of standardization, distinctly discrete tool types with definite imposition of form in tool shaping, and the use of hooks. These features only first appeared in the stone6 and bone7 tool-using cultures of early humans after the Lower Palaeolithic6,7, which indicates that crows have achieved a considerable technical capability in their tool manufacture and use.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Chevalier-Skolnikoff, S. Behav. Brain Sci. 12, 561–627 (1989).

  2. 2

    Parker, S. & Gibson, K. J. hum. Evol. 6, 623–641 (1977).

  3. 3

    Beck, B. B. Animal Tool Behaviour: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals (Garland, New York, 1980).

  4. 4

    Morse, D. H. The Wilson Bulletin 80, 220–223 (1968).

  5. 5

    Millikan, G. C. & Bowman, R. I. Living Bird 6, 23–41 (1967).

  6. 6

    Mellars, P. in The Human Revolution (eds Mellars, P. & Stringer, C.) 338–365 (Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1989).

  7. 7

    Yellen, J. E., Brooks, A. S., Cornelissen, E., Mehlman, M. J. & Stewart, K. Science 268, 553–556 (1995).

  8. 8

    Délacour, J. Guide des oiseaux de la Nouvelle-Calédonie et ses Dépendances (Delachaux and Niestlé, Neuchâtel, 1966).

  9. 9

    Reid, J. B. Anim. Behav. 30, 1212–1216 (1982).

  10. 10

    Jones, T. B. & Kamil, A. C. Science 180, 1076–1078 (1973).

  11. 11

    Grobecker, D. B. & Pietsch, T. W. Auk 95, 760–761 (1978).

  12. 12

    Zach, R. Behaviour 68, 106–117 (1979).

  13. 13

    James, P. C. & Verbeek, N. A. M. Ardea 72, 207–215 (1984).

  14. 14

    Gayou, D. C. The Wilson Bulletin 94, 593–594 (1982).

  15. 15

    Orenstein, R. I. Auk 89, 674–676 (1972).

  16. 16

    Napier, J. in Classification and Human Evolution (ed. Washburn, S. L.) 3rd edn 178–189 (Aldine, Chicago, 1969).

  17. 17

    Caron, A. J., Caron, R. F. & Antell, S. E. Devl Psychol. 24, 620–627 (1988).

  18. 18

    McGrew, W. C. Chimpanzee Material Culture: Implications for Human Evolution (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hunt, G. Manufacture and use of hook-tools by New Caledonian crows. Nature 379, 249–251 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1038/379249a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

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.