Pick it, strip it, stick it, store it – the life cycle of a crow’s hook tool

Dr Barbara Klump, Cognitive and Cultural Ecology Group, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour, Germany

Hooks were one of the key technological innovations of Middle Stone Age humans, leading to the development of productive fishing technologies and weapons of enhanced killing power. In the animal kingdom, however, the use of hooks is extremely rare, and the manufacture of hooked stick tools by  New Caledonian crows is the only known example of hook production by a non-human species. New Caledonian crows are very particular when it comes to the manufacture of hook tools, but how do they find suitable material in an environment with a multitude of options? How do they make and use these tools, and finally, what happens to a successful tool after use? I will explore these questions from an ecological view point with a focus on how the environment shapes this unusual behaviour.

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