For the first time in recorded history, Pigs have been observed using tools in their everyday lives. This exciting discovery, made by ecologist Meredith Root-Bernstein, reveals that Pigs are more intelligent than previously thought.
Root-Bernstein was visiting a Parisian zoo in 2015 when she witnessed a Visayan Warty Pig, a critically endangered species native to the Philippines, pick up a piece of bark and use it to dig in the soil. She was surprised to find no previous records of tool use in any of the 17 wild Pig species and domestic Swine.
Despite their well-known intelligence, it may not be so unusual that such innovative behavior has gone unnoticed in wild Pigs, who are often endangered or critically endangered, Root-Bernstein explains.
The scientist and her team returned to the zoo to record the Pig parents and their two offspring using tools 11 times over two years. While the team also added kitchen spatulas to the enclosure, the Pigs preferred natural tools such as bark and sticks over the human-made objects.
The ability to use tools is a trait shared with humans and highlights a common evolutionary history. Tool use brings us closer to animals and helps us realize that we are all connected, Root-Bernstein says.
Tool use is not limited to just Primates. Across the animal kingdom, creatures of all shapes and sizes have been observed using tools to carry out a variety of tasks. From Crows using sticks and twigs to extract Insects to Dolphins using sponges to protect their noses while hunting, tool use is a widespread and varied phenomenon.
Here are are other clever creatures who have taken a liking to tools.
One of the most surprising examples of tool use in the animal kingdom is the Egyptian Vulture. These Birds are known for using rocks to crack open Ostrich eggs, their favorite food source.
But that’s not all: They have also been observed using sticks to line their nests.
Bowerbirds, found in Australia and New Guinea, also demonstrate their own unique form of tool use.
Male Bowerbirds build elaborate bowers to attract mates, using items such as bottle caps, beads, and broken glass to create visually stunning structures.
Octopuses, often considered the most intelligent Invertebrates on the planet, are known to use tools in innovative ways. Some species have been observed carrying two halves of a shell to hide and protect themselves from predators.
The Blanket Octopus is even known to tear off tentacles from Jellyfish and use them as weapons.
Dolphins are another species known for their high levels of intelligence, and they also use tools in remarkable ways. In 1984, Bottlenose Dolphins were observed wrapping sponge around their noses to prevent abrasions while hunting on the seafloor.
These Dolphins have also figured out how to trap Fishes inside Conch shells and then swim to the surface to eat their catch.
Elephants are also notable for their use of tools. With their dexterous trunk, they are able to use branches to scratch hard-to- reach parts of their bodies, and leaves to swat Flies.
Some Elephants have even shown a remarkable artistic ability, given the chance to paint with brushes.
GALAPAGOS WOODPECKER FINCH
There are several species of Finch that use tools as well, including the famous Galapagos Woodpecker Finch.
These Birds use twigs or cactus spines as tools to extract Insects from small holes, earning them the nickname “tool-using Finch” or “carpenter Finch.”
PAGING GEORGE ORWELL
So, there you have it, Pigs are officially members of the tool-using club, along with Dolphins, Vultures, Chimpanzees, and Crows. While they may not have mastered the art of political power yet, this discovery shows that Pigs are much more intelligent than we gave them credit for.
Keep your eyes peeled. Who knows what other exciting discoveries await us in the animal kingdom!
In this allegorical satire of a book, George Orwell turned animals into beings smart enough to rebel against the human who was farming them. Could Orwell have known that the intelligence of Pigs was true to life and not merely something worth exploring in fiction?