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Curr Biol. 2010 Dec 7;20(23):R1032-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.09.042.

Animal tool-use.

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Scottish Primate Research Group, and Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution, School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, Fife KY16 9JP, Scotland, UK.


The sight of an animal making and using a tool captivates scientists and laymen alike, perhaps because it forces us to question some of our ideas about human uniqueness. Does the animal know how the tool works? Did it anticipate the need for the tool and make it in advance? To some, this fascination with tools seems arbitrary and anthropocentric; after all, animals engage in many other complex activities, like nest building, and we know that complex behaviour need not be cognitively demanding. But tool-using behaviour can also provide a powerful window into the minds of living animals, and help us to learn what capacities we share with them - and what might have changed to allow for the incontrovertibly unique levels of technology shown by modern humans.

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