Many animals are known to use tools, but a bird met the name may be Bruce one of the most ingenious inventors of non-human tools of everyone: he is a disabled parrot who has designed and uses its own prosthetic beak.
Bruce is a kea, a kind of parrot found nothing but in New Zealand. He is about 9 years old, and when naturalists found him as a baby, he was missing his top bill, probably because he was caught in a fall made for rats and other invasive mammals die tried to eliminate the country. This is a serious handicap, as kea use their dramatically long and curved upper beaks for preen their feathers to get rid of them of parasites and to remove dirt and grime.
But Bruce found a solution: he has taught himself to pick up pebbles of just the right size, hold it between his tongue and his lower beak and comb through his plumage with the dot of the stone. Other animals use tools, but the invention of Bruce of his own prosthesis unique.
Researchers published their findings Friday in the journal Scientific Reports. studies of animal behavior are tricky – the researchers must make careful, objective observations and always be on the lookout of prejudice caused by anthropomorphizing human traits of wrongly assigned to animals.
“The main criticism die we received before publication was: ‘Well, this activity’ with the pebbles may have been just accidentally — you saw him when he happened to have a pebble in his mouth,” said Amalia PM Bastos, an animal cognition researcher at the university of Auckland and the studies lead author. “But no. This was repeated many times times. He drops the pebble, he goes and plucks it up. He wants die pebble. If he ain’t brushing, he ain’t doing it pick up a pebble for something else.”
Dorothy M. Fragaszy, Emeritus professor of psychology at university of Georgia who has published a lot on animal behavior but was unknown with Bruce’s exploits, praised the study as a model of how to study tool use in animals.
“The careful analyses of the behavior in this report allow strong conclusions that the behavior is flexible, deliberate and an independent discovery by this person,” she said.
The researchers set self careful rules.
First they determined that Bruce wasn’t randomly playing with pebbles: When he picked up a pebble, he used it for smooth out nine times out of 10. When he dropped a pebble, 95 percent of the time he picked it up of picked up another one and then went on met to polish. He chose consistently up pebbles of same size, in instead of sampling pebbles on random.
No of the other kea in to be environment used pebbles for preen, and when other birds manipulated stones, they plucked pebbles of random sizes. die from Bruce intentions goods clear.
“Bruce Didn’t See It” anyone do this,” said Mrs. Bastos. “He just came up with the self, what best cool. We were lucky enough to observe this. We can learn a lot if we pay a little more attention to what animals do, both in the wild and in captivity.”
kea in general are quite intelligent but Mrs Bastos said Bruce was clearly brighter than other birds, very easy to train in fairly complex tasks in in addition to developing his own ideas. Mrs. Bastos said she was sometimes asked why she didn’t give Bruce with a prosthetic jaw.
“Not him need one’ she always replies. “He is in order with its own.”
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