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Animal Tool Behavior: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals [Hardcover]

Gordon M. Burghardt , Robert W. Shumaker , Kristina R. Walkup , Benjamin B. Beck

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Book Description

15 April 2011 0801898536 978-0801898532 revised and updated edition

When published in 1980, Benjamin B. Beck’s Animal Tool Behavior was the first volume to catalog and analyze the complete literature on tool use and manufacture in non-human animals. Beck showed that animals—from insects to primates—employed different types of tools to solve numerous problems. His work inspired and energized legions of researchers to study the use of tools by a wide variety of species.

In this revised and updated edition of the landmark publication, Robert W. Shumaker and Kristina R. Walkup join Beck to reveal the current state of knowledge regarding animal tool behavior. Through a comprehensive synthesis of the studies produced through 2010, the authors provide an updated and exact definition of tool use, identify new modes of use that have emerged in the literature, examine all forms of tool manufacture, and address common myths about non-human tool use. Specific examples involving invertebrates, birds, fish, and mammals describe the differing levels of sophistication of tool use exhibited by animals.

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Animal Tool Behavior is a read for a wide audience of individuals interested in understanding not only the range of behaviors of which non-human animals are capable, but also cognition, conceptualized both as a set of abilities and as an array of mental operations.

(Maura Pilotti Metapsychology)

Reading about how busy all these tool-users are is a delight, an introduction to a unique way of regarding a fascinating aspect of animal behavior.

(Rob Hardy The Dispatch)



A true encyclopedia of animal tool use and as such I highly recommend it for every library that serves zoologists and/or behavioral scientists as well as for major public libraries.

(Andrezej Elzanowski Acta Ornithologica)

I highly recommend this publication to anyone who is interested in animal behavior. It would be a wonderful textbook for advanced undergraduate courses and for graduate-level seminars in biology, psychology, and anthropology programs.

(Marc Bekoff Quarterly Review of Biology)

This book is a landmark publication that will stimulate, guide and advance animal tool-use research for decades to come... Brimming with exciting natural history and presented with admirable rigour and scholarship.

(Christian Rutz Ibis)

About the Author

Robert W. Shumaker is the vice president of life sciences at the Indianapolis Zoo, the author of Orangutans, and coauthor, with Benjamin B. Beck, of Primates in Question. Kristina R. Walkup is an adjunct assistant professor at Drake University. Benjamin B. Beck is the director of conservation at Great Ape Trust.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Busy, Busy Beasts 9 Nov 2011
By R. Hardy - Published on
When Benjamin B. Beck wrote _Animal Tool Behavior_ in 1980, it listed hundreds of ways animals, from insects to apes, used tools to do everything from catch prey to brush away flies. It contained all the examples Beck could find in the literature. It proved to be an inspiration to researchers, who more carefully looked for examples and documented them. Thus it was inevitable that the book would go out of date and need a revision because of its own success. Now there is _Animal Tool Behavior: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals_ (The Johns Hopkins University Press) to bring everything up to date, in fact tripling the number of examples found in Beck's original. Beck is again the author, but he has coauthors this time; he was a graduate advisor and mentor for Robert W. Shumaker, who in turn played the same role for Kristina Walkup. Thus the authors say happily in their acknowledgments, "We are three generations of scientists." This comprehensive and handsome revision makes clear that the partnership has been productive, that biologists in the field have seen more examples of tool use because they were looking for them, and that those animals have been busy using sticks, stones, leaves, thorns, and more as they get their livings. It is also clear that tool use, long ago thought to be a hallmark unique to the human animal (an animal whose extensive tool use is not included in this volume for obvious reasons) is widespread, from insects and crabs to chimpanzees.

In the introduction, the authors tackle the problem of definition; what is tool use? The problem is difficult. A clear definition is just a start. The authors further classify tool use into modes of use. The modes include Drop, Throw, Brandish, Pound, Pry, Dig, Jab, Reach, Rub, Wipe, and Block, to list just a few (busy, busy beasts). The main body of the work consists, of course, of the examples of tool use. There are respective chapters devoted to: invertebrates; fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds; non-primate mammals; prosimians and monkeys; and apes. It is no surprise that the first of these chapters is shorter than the subsequent ones, nor that the chapter on apes is about as long as all the others together. There are so many examples, and many of them are surprising and funny, all the more so for being described with clinical scientific precision. Here is a typical listing, under "Bait, Entice:" "Male spiders of the genus _Pisaura_ capture and present flies to females during courtship. If the female is receptive, she begins to eat the fly and the male has about an hour to copulate without danger of being devoured by the larger female (Bristowe 1929, 1971)." Many of the examples given here are just that brief; for more information you would have to go to the extensive literature referenced here, since this volume concentrates on listing and cataloging. A female water strider carries the male who copulates with her for hours. This would not be the use of a tool, except carrying the male around keeps other males from harassing her, thus allowing her to forage. The hermit crabs of a particular species congregate when there is a new shell available. "The dominant crab occupies the newly available shell, if it is suitable, and the other crabs begin a frantic sequence of shell exchange." Herons use bread as a bait to get fish. Otters do a backstroke while balancing a rock on their chests, and use it as an anvil on which they smash mollusks. A sandhill crane uses a towel to dry itself after swimming. Wild African elephants drop logs or rocks onto electric fences to break the fence or the circuit. It is clear over and over that biological researchers in the field are at risk: "A bird referred to as a `black eagle' (species not reported) in Rhodesia Dropped [the book capitalizes tool modes] eleven sticks toward researchers investigating its nest." Capuchin, howler, colobus, and squirrel monkeys all do the same sort of dropping, as do gibbons and many others. A researcher reported that an elephant threw at her "large stones, sticks, a Kodak film box, my own sandal, and a wildebeest bone." A gibbon stimulated its genitals by rubbing a stick on them. Orangutans "Rubbed or Wiped their own genitalia with inanimate and animate objects, for example, a cat." Bonobos "were observed Throwing unripe fruit at a tortoise."

The long lists of such behaviors are the meat of the book. The authors admit that they have not analyzed the "ontogenic, ecological, evolutionary, and cognitive aspects of tool behavior." In a final chapter about tool myths, they do blast the idea that only primates use tools. They also show that tool use does not mean that tool users are any smarter than non-tool users, and that "intelligence" and tool use need to be untangled from each other's definitions. There is little theorizing here, but the astonishing wealth of examples will be of great use to those thinking about cognition. Reading about how busy all these tool-users are is a delight, an introduction to a unique way of regarding a fascinating aspect of animal behavior.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible update from Beck's pioneering book. 28 Dec 2012
By Bear rEvolution - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ben Beck's original book on animal tool behavior reviewed a wealth of data previously available only by searching a huge range of publications. It also catalyzed hundreds of additional studies, as demonstrated by the immense number of subsequent research covered by this book. It has saved me thousands of hours of literature searching and study and opened my eyes to facets of behavior by carnivores and ungulates that I had not previously thought about in these terms.
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