Fish are smart, exhibit W: Tuskfish uses a tool!  »

A pro diver caught this series of pictures documenting a blackspot tuskfish in the Keppel region of the southern Great Barrier Reef carrying a cockle over to a rock where she (he? it? I pick she) was seen repeatedly bashing the shellfish to get at the fleshy bits inside.” Nice description, National Geographic! Jeez louise. Come on Ms. Tuskfish, go vegan already!

People have witnessed other fish using similar tools to eat but this is the first time a wild fish has been caught on camera using a tool. The pictures were published in an article in Coral Reefs, a journal of which I’ve never heard, try as I might to keep up with the latest coral reef news. The scientists are using Jane Goodall’s definition of tool use: “the use of an external object as a functional extension of mouth or hand in the attainment of an immediate goal.” Sounds good to me! The article says this fish is extra smart too because it is more practical to bash the shell against the rock than to try to drop a rock onto the shell—you can see how that would be problematic in the ocean. Ms. Tuskfish is like, “adoy.”

Remember when they thought only humans used tools? Ha, silly people. Always trying to be special. In fact, lots of animals use tools. Otters use rocks to bust open shells as well; I think this is my favorite example of tool use in an animal because otters have been known to save a stone if it’s an especially good one. They hold them on their bellies while they float on their backs! Oh otters, I love you so much, you and your favorite rocks. You’re cool too, Ms. Tuskfish!

Moral of the story: Fish are smart! They can think! So if you’re eating them because you think they are dumb—which is an irrational reason but people do it—you can’t use that excuse anymore.

[photo by S. Gardner via National Geographic/Coral Reefs]

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