For years and years, humans considered themselves the one and only makers of tools. Homo sapien literally means “wise man” because we were so intelligent that it was us humans, and us humans alone, who could even have the brain capacity to create a tool. It was considered the key feature of the genus Homo.
Well, that was until people actually decided to carefully look at other animal’s social behavior. It was not until the mid to late 1900’s that people realized “oops us humans are not the only ones to use tools.” Primatologists discovered chimpanzees creating tools for fishing termites out of their mounds, and stones for crushing nuts from their hard shell. Other researchers discovered that gorillas make beds from foliage, as well as sponges out of chewed up leaves.
These revelations eroded away our human arrogance just a tad. But surely, tools are the domain of only the highest order of primates. Well, no. We soon saw other lower order primates, and even non-primates use tools. Sea otters use rock tools to smash open shells many times a day.
Now medical tools? Maybe we humans need to find a new name?
It was recently observed that spider monkeys are chewing up a special kind of plant and using it as a scratcher. The spider monkeys chew up the tip and rub it on themselves. Scientists believe by modifying the scratcher tip, the monkeys could be providing “more relief and comfort during scratching.” The chewing alteration could “also be related to the chemical properties of the plant to alleviate the itch.” For some time it has been believed that primates use plants for medicinal purposes, but mostly by ingestion.
Oh yeah, spider monkeys, no opposable thumbs either. Not too shabby.
Source: Discovery News
Image Credit: Hypergurl – Tanya Ann on Flickr