Re: What did AAT Supposedly eat?

Kevyn Loren Winkless (
21 Jan 1995 09:01:27 GMT

In <> (John Wilkins) writes:

>In article <3fcr37$>, (Phil
>Nicholls) wrote:

>: Chimpanzees will look for a small branch of particular size, strip the
>: leaves off it a particular way, carry it for some distance and use it
>: to fish for termits. By any reasonable criteria they have taken a
>: natural material and altered it's shape for a particular use. That is
>: tool making.
>Is it taught behaviour; ie, is it cultural? If so, then I think you'd
>*have* to say it was tool making. If it was instinctive, then not.

I'm not certain I see why you make this distinction. Who is to say that
the _urge_ to make the tools in the first place is not instinctive -
certainly, the degree and complexity of our tools is due to the culture
which backs them, but it may be instinctive to attempt to use a tool in
the first place.

A seagull drops clams on a rocky beach
A sea otter grabs a flat stone and smacks shellfish against it
A chimp finds his nut-breaking stone to open a walnut
A human picks up a thin knife and opens an oyster

Perhaps tool useage is a matter of degree rather than difference, and
while culture permits the development of specific and complex tools the
seed of the idea is provided by an instinctive knowledge that using a
tool makes it easier.
Tooluse makes available resources otherwise too energy costly than
they're worth...resources that, perhaps, other animals won't bother
with. This might have an evolutionary advantage to it, reducing
competition, etc.

And on the other hand, it could be so culture bound that personification
sets in and we automatically see tool using whenever an animal moves a
piece of his environment to get at his lunch.