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Re-inventing the hook


Orangutans spontaneously bend straight wires into hooks to fish for food



The bending of a hook into wire to fish for the handle of a basket is surprisingly challenging for young children under eight years of age. Now cognitive biologists and comparative psychologists from the University of Vienna, the University of St Andrews and the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna around Isabelle Laumer and Alice Auersperg studied hook tool making for the first time in a non-human primate species – the orangutan. To the researchers' surprise the apes spontaneously manufactured hook tools out of straight wire within the very first trial and in a second task unbent curved wire to make a straight tool. [read more]


Publication in "Scientific Reports": Laumer I.B., Call J., Bugnyar T., Auersperg A.M.I "Spontaneous innovation of hook-bending and unbending in orangutans (Pongo abelii)" DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-34607-0

Male orangutan using a stick tool. (c) Alice Auersperg