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Habitual Tool Use Innovated by Free-living New Zealand Kea

Penelitian - The question of why flexible tool use is rare in the animal kingdom is important given the evolutionary significance of the behaviour in human evolution. Researchers have found that world's only alpine parrot, the kea in the South Island's Murchison Mountains is using sticks to get food out of stoat trap boxes.

The emergence of flexible tool use is rare in the animal kingdom and thought to be largely constrained by either cognitive ability or ecological factors. That mostly birds with a high level of intelligence innovate tool use in captivity is consistent with the former hypothesis.

Penelitian Habitual Tool Use Innovated by Free-living New Zealand Kea

Matthew Goodman, Thomas Hayward and Gavin Hunt report the first documented case of habitual tool use innovated in the wild by a bird species only known to have used tools in captivity. Trap-boxes containing food-bait and snap-traps were installed in the remote Murchison Mountains, New Zealand, from 2002 to catch introduced stoats.

Kea tampered with the trap-boxes in various ways. Video footage confirmed the stick insertion was kea tool use. Trap-boxes are unlikely to have provided the only possibility for kea tool use in their habitat given their extractive foraging and skilled object manipulation.



“We argue that they instead greatly facilitated the opportunity for tool use, thus increasing the chance that kea would invent the behaviour. The innovation of tool use by kea in response to facilitation provides rare field support for the cognitive constraints hypothesis,” Goodman and colleagues said.

Journal : Matthew Goodman et al. Habitual tool use innovated by free-living New Zealand kea, Scientific Reports, 17 September 2018, DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-32363-9

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