In Clever Critters: 8 Best Non-Human Tool Users, by Brandon Keim (Wired Science, January 16, 2009), we are introduced to best known examples of animal tool use.
The article begins with the requisite Darwin worship, of course:
Much more likely remains to be found: until Jane Goodall watched chimpanzees fishing for termites with sticks, scientists had been reluctant to credit animals with such sophisticated behavior — perhaps because, as Charles Darwin noted, “Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal.”
Darwin himself was quite intrigued by animal tool use, suggesting that it allowed them to overcome biological shortcomings. In On the Origin of Species, he noted that elephants snap off tree branches to swat away flies; in honor of Darwin’s interest, elephants are the first on our list of animal tool use.
Well, the sad reality is better recorded here: “African elephants face extinction by 2020, conservationists warn”.
If I die tonight, the most urgent thing I want to say is this: Putting animals on the same plane as humans not only disses humans but dooms animals.
They don’t stand a chance in a contest.
Look, it was never supposed to be a contest. Pretending that they and we are on equal terms dooms them.
Whatever you may believe about religion, the plain fact is that we must look after them, especially when they are vulnerable. Otherwise, they will die.
Ideologies aimed at pretending that humans are “just evolved animals” are – in my view – bad for the environment.