Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Discovery of species-wide tool use in the Hawaiian crow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Open Access permissions

Open

Author(s)

Christian Rutz, Barbara Christina Klump, Lisa Komarczyk, Rosanna Leighton, Joshua Kramer, Saskia Wischnewski, Shoko Sugasawa, Michael Blair Morrissey, Richard James, James St Clair, Richard A. Switzer, Bryce M. Masuda

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Only a handful of bird species are known to use foraging tools in the wild1. Amongst them, the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides) stands out with its sophisticated tool-making skills2, 3. Despite considerable speculation, the evolutionary origins of this species’ remarkable tool behaviour remain largely unknown, not least because no naturally tool-using congeners have yet been identified that would enable informative comparisons4. Here we show that another tropical corvid, the ‘Alalā (C. hawaiiensis; Hawaiian crow), is a highly dexterous tool user. Although the ‘Alalā became extinct in the wild in the early 2000s, and currently survives only in captivity5, at least two lines of evidence suggest that tool use is part of the species’ natural behavioural repertoire: juveniles develop functional tool use without training, or social input from adults; and proficient tool use is a species-wide capacity. ‘Alalā and New Caledonian crows evolved in similar environments on remote tropical islands, yet are only distantly related6, suggesting that their technical abilities arose convergently. This supports the idea that avian foraging tool use is facilitated by ecological conditions typical of islands, such as reduced competition for embedded prey and low predation risk4, 7. Our discovery creates exciting opportunities for comparative research on multiple tool-using and non-tool-using corvid species. Such work will in turn pave the way for replicated cross-taxonomic comparisons with the primate lineage, enabling valuable insights into the evolutionary origins of tool-using behaviour.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-407
JournalNature
Volume537
Issue number7620
Early online date14 Sep 2016
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2016

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Experimental resource pulses influence social-network dynamics and the potential for information flow in tool-using crows

    St Clair, J., Burns, Z., Bettaney, E., Morrissey, M. B., Otis, B., Ryder, B., Fleischer, R., James, R. & Rutz, C. 3 Nov 2015 In : Nature Communications. 6, 8 p., 7197

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Calibrating animal-borne proximity loggers

    Rutz, C., Morrissey, M. B., Burns, Z., Burt, J., Otis, B., St Clair, J. & James, R. Jun 2015 In : Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 6, 6, p. 656-667 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Preliminary observations of tool-processing behaviour in Hawaiian crows Corvus hawaiiensis

    Klump, B. C., Masuda, B. M., St Clair, J. J. H. & Rutz, C. 21 Oct 2018 In : Communicative and Integrative Biology. Latest Articles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Natural selection for body shape in resource polymorphic Icelandic Arctic charr

    Franklin, O. D., Skúlason, S., Morrissey, M. B. & Ferguson, M. M. 16 Aug 2018 In : Journal of Evolutionary Biology. Early View, 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Quantification and decomposition of environment-selection relationships

    Hunter, D. C., Pemberton, J., Pilkington, J. & Morrissey, M. B. Apr 2018 In : Evolution. 72, 4, p. 851-866

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. An absolute sodium abundance for a cloud-free 'hot Saturn' exoplanet

    Nikolov, N. , Sing, D. K. , Fortney, J. J. , Goyal, J. M. , Drummond, B. , Evans, T. M. , Gibson, N. P. , De Mooj, E. J. W. , Rustamkulov, Z. , Wakeford, H. R. , Smalley, B. , Burgasser, A. J. , Hellier, C. , Helling, C. , Mayne, N. J. , Madhusudhan, N. , Kataria, T. , Baines, J. , Carter, A. L. , Ballester, G. E. & 3 others Barstow, J. K., McCleery, J. & Spake, J. J. 7 May 2018 In : Nature. 557, p. 526-529

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. CO2 storage and release in the deep Southern Ocean on millennial to centennial timescales

    Rae, J. W. B., Burke, A., Robinson, L. F., Adkins, J. F., Chen, T., Cole, C., Greenop, R., Li, T., Littley, E., Nita, D. C., Stewart, J. A. & Taylor, B. 24 Oct 2018 In : Nature. 562, p. 569-573

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

  3. Does the galaxy NGC1052-DF2 falsify Milgromian dynamics?

    Kroupa, P., Haghi, H., Javanmardi, B., Zonoozi, A. H., Müller, O., Banik, I., Wu, X., Zhao, H. & Dabringhausen, J. 12 Sep 2018 In : Nature. 561, p. E4-E5 2 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

  4. Exciton-polariton topological insulator

    Klembt, S., Harder, T. H., Egorov, O. A., Winkler, K., Ge, R., Bandres, M. A., Emmerling, M., Worschech, L., Liew, T. C. H., Segev, M., Schneider, C. & Höfling, S. 8 Oct 2018 In : Nature. 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Nature (Journal)

    Cresswell, W. (Reviewer)
    21 Dec 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Nature (Journal)

    Cresswell, W. (Reviewer)
    11 Nov 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Nature (Journal)

    Dritschel, D. G. (Editor)
    2005 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

  4. Nature (Journal)

    Samuel, I. D. W. (Editor)
    2005 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

ID: 245863245