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Parrots use pebbles, grinding minerals

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Greater vasa parrot/AEM

From New Scientist:

Parrots use pebble tools to grind up own mineral supplements

They were filmed using pebbles for grinding, thought to be a uniquely human activity – one that allowed our civilisations to extract more nutrition from cereal-based foods.

But the purpose of the behaviour is not yet settled. Although females need the calcium, it was usually males who were caught grinding. Perhaps, they regurgitate the mineral and pass it on to their mate: they are known to do so with food.

But why use a tool and not just the beak, anyway? The team suspects that using their beak alone for grinding may be uncomfortable.

“It adds to the rich assortment of tool-related skills in a growing number of species,” he says. “It is hard to believe that until a few decades ago humans were supposed to be the only species that used tools.” More.

Really? Who said that? Doesn’t it  depend on what one means by a “tool.”

On New Scientist’s definition, a bird swallowing stones for its crop is using tools too. Did anyone fail to notice that they did that?

Recently, we heard from the BBC that apes smashing things with stones were entering the Stone Age. And wondered,

what about the octopuses that use halved coconuts as shelters? Are they entering the Wood Age? Are those octopuses that twist jar lids to get food or to escape entering the Age of Plastic? More.

When people really need to believe something, just about anything counts as evidence.

See also: What can we hope to learn about animal minds?

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