Researchers from Macquarie University and Central Queensland University say they have evidence of a fish using a tool. The fish was captured on film by diver Scott Gardner in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
This fish appears to be smashing molluscs open on an anvil-shaped portion of a rock, in order to get to the treat inside. The images of this, the scientists say, offer the first-known glimpse of a fish using a tool in the wild. The researchers documented this marine tool-use in late June 2011 in the journal Coral Reefs.
The scientists say the tuskfish was aggressively moving its head around to land alternate blows on the cockle it was holding in its mouth. And this, they say, meets the definition of tool use as outlined by Jane Goodall, the famed primatologist and conservationist. The scientists said:
Jane Goodall describes tool use as the use of an external object as a functional extension of mouth or hand in the attainment of an immediate goal. Tool use is often observed in a foraging context in a wide range of species, [but] there are few documented cases of [the use of tools by marine fishes], particularly based on observations by those in the wild.