Video Laumer et al. 2017 from Can hook-bending be let off the hook? Bending/unbending of pliant tools by cockatoos
2017-08-11T09:00:04Z (GMT) by
The spontaneous crafting of hook-tools from bendable material to lift a basket out of a vertical tube in corvids has widely been used as one of the prime examples of animal tool innovation. However, it was recently suggested that the animals' solution was hardly innovative but strongly influenced by predispositions from habitual tool use and nest building. We tested the Goffin's cockatoo, which is neither a specialized tool user nor a nest builder, on a similar task set-up. Three birds individually learned to bend hook tools from straight wire to retrieve food from vertical tubes and four subjects unbent wire to retrieve food from horizontal tubes. Pre-experience with ready-made hooks had some effect but was not necessary for success. Our results indicate that the ability to represent and manufacture tools according to a current need does not require genetically hardwired behavioural routines, but can indeed arise innovatively from domain general cognitive processing.