Tool-use observed in molluscs!

Everybody knows that humans are "special", somehow different from the other animals on our little blue planet, but it is very difficult to define just how.

An early casualty in defining "special" was tool-use.  First chimpanzees, then primates, even birds were observed using tools - hammers, anvils, probing tools, fishing rods, weapons.

Now a mollusc is being presented as a tool-user.

The veined octopus Amphioctopus marginatus has been filmed by divers collecting coconut shell halves (actually human litter, dumped in the sea) and carrying them away to use later as a shelter.

Their habitat is open, featureless sediment, no protection from predators.  The shells provide vital shelter in the exposed underwater plain.

If the octopus finds a single half-shell, it digs it up, carries away and then turns it over when needed.

If the clever creature is lucky enough to find two halves, it stacks on inside the other, then later "rebuilds" a whole coconut, except this time with a yummy octopus filling.

This is another example of high-level intelligence in these bizarre animals.  To me, octopus are a prime candidate for the next "special" animals on Earth, once those polluting apes are out of the scene...

Museum Victoria article by original researchers, with video online.

Full story from Current Biology, with downloadable videos.

BBC story with video online.



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=SMART=7 years ago
Ima mollusc
Ima mollusc
Ima mollusc 
iiiiiiiiIma mollusc
ima mollusc
ima mollusc
ima mollusc

Thats the mollusc song.

I can hear the tune through the text
...and it's bothering me
I can't for the life of me remember where that comes from.

Tunesrlife7 years ago
Well, we're the only creature on the planet that harms the environment more than helping it.  I'm sure there's a more educated way to phrase that, but our 'niche' is (as a general population) to destroy.   ...Sadly.
Also, language.  We've got the largest vocabulary of any speices.
As far as we know...
Kryptonite7 years ago
Where is tool using animal?!?
 Well, this broadens the list of species he could be...

I was so ready to say he was an otter!
Which also use rocks and the sort to break open shelled fish. :D
 Haha Yep.
crapflinger7 years ago
if they're considering the use of found objects as shelter as tool use...what about hermit crabs? they take over shells that have been abandoned (either by other crabs, or snails)...they even take soda cans and other jetsam for houses....wouldn't that count?

of course...i'm not personally willing to deny the cephalopodian use of tools (it's not safe...they might hear you)
Kiteman (author)  crapflinger7 years ago
The definition most scientists use for tools is, roughly, something taken somewhere else to be used later for something else.

Hermit crabs use the shells immediately, but the veined octopus carries the shell away for later use as protection, and if it finds two halves it "rebuilds" the original coconut shape.

Watch the videos - this is definitely deliberate behaviour, rather than pure instinct.
oh i'm not denying the obvious tool use....just wondering why the crab thing doesn't specifically count...i know it's on the fringe...but it could work
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