From “Fish Uses Tool to Dig Up and Crush Clams” (ScienceDaily Sep. 28, 2011), we learn:
n the video, an orange-dotted tuskfish digs a clam out of the sand, carries it over to a rock, and repeatedly throws the clam against the rock to crush it. Bernardi shot the video in Palau in 2009.
“What the movie shows is very interesting. The animal excavates sand to get the shell out, then swims for a long time to find an appropriate area where it can crack the shell,” Bernardi said. “It requires a lot of forward thinking, because there are a number of steps involved. For a fish, it’s a pretty big deal.”
Yes, it is a pretty big deal, but what it mainly shows is how “tree of life” theories, now in ruins, have caused us to underestimate the intelligence of exothermic animals. Why was it sacrosanct that fish were too stupid to do this?
Smashing something against a rock is enterprising, but does not constitute using a tool. For one thing, implicit in the idea of a “tool” is that it is made for a purpose. That includes the assumption of some entity somewhere that the world could be different from what it is (as a result of using the tool). A stretch for most animals, including fish.
What really happens when you give an animal a tool:
See also: Forget the old tree of life. Here’s a new, improved tree for mammals, incorporating bursts
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