Monday, May 5, 2008

Watch your step, humans...

In a stunning example of imitation of humans, an orangutan has been observed using a pole to catch fish. Courtesy of the inimitable Richard Dawkins, the Daily Mail reports:

A male orangutan, clinging precariously to overhanging branches, flails the water with a pole, trying desperately to spear a passing fish. It is the first time one has been seen using a tool to hunt.


This individual had seen locals fishing with spears on the Gohong River. Although the method required too much skill for him to master, he was later able to improvise by using the pole to catch fish already trapped in the locals' fishing lines.

The accompanying photo is amazing:

This is the sort of behavior that can be taught by one predator to another; new techniques have been observed spreading quickly within hunting populations of many kinds of animals. If humans exterminate their species without taking out the planet's ecosphere, it won't be long before another species fills our niche comfortably.

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