ArticlePDF Available
Crickette M. Sanz, Josep Call, and Christophe
Boesch (Eds.): Tool Use in Animals: Cognition
and Ecology
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2013, x + 313 pp.,
Online ISBN: 9780511894800; Hardback ISBN: 9781107011199
($120.00); Paperback ISBN: 9781107657434 ($49.99)
Alexandra R. DeCasien
&Katarina D. Evans
Holly Fuong
&D. Susie Lee
Megan Petersdorf
&Rachel Petersen
Crystal Shackleford
Received: 19 August 2016 /Accepted: 23 September 2016 /Published online: 4 October 2016
#Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016
Within the last decade, there have been extraordinary discoveries and advances in our
understanding of tool-using behavior in animals. We now know that mammals, fish,
and even some invertebrates make and employ different types of tools to solve
numerous problems. While there are textbooks that catalog and analyze the literature
on tool use and manufacture in nonhuman animals (Shumaker et al. 2011), these works
have not explicitly focused on the underlying proximate, e.g., cognitive, mechanisms
necessary to produce such behaviors or the selective pressures acting on them. Tool Use
in Animals: Cognition and Ecology, coedited by Crickette M. Sanz, Josep Call, and
Christophe Boesch, attempts to fill this gap by providing an overview of recent
Int J Primatol (2016) 37:608611
DOI 10.1007/s10764-016-9921-1
Handling Editor: James Higham
*Alexandra R. DeCasien
Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA
New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, New York, NY, USA
Department of Anthropology, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York,
NY 10016, USA
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University, New York,
NY 10027, USA
Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA
theoretical debates surrounding definitions of tool use and assumptions regarding its
underlying cognitive abilities.
The book is organized into three parts. Part 1, BCognition of Tool Use,^provides an
overview of definitions and criteria relevant to discerning instances of tool use and the
cognitive capacities that might underlie such traits. Part 2, BComparative Cognition,^
reviews multiple comparative analyses on animal tool use. Part 3, BEcology and
Culture,^provides examples of tool use from three primate species and discusses the
socioecological variables that may explain variation in this trait. Part 4,
BArchaeological Perspectives,^describes nonhuman primate models of fossil hominin
tool use and the supporting archaeological evidence.
Part 1 consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 by Call (BThree Ingredients to Becoming
a Successful Tool User^) highlights that nonhuman tool use has become associated
with intelligence because of misconceptions concerning both its scarcity and status as a
uniquely human trait. The author highlights how different types of tool use call on
different types of intelligence, differentiating tool specialists that use a single tool for a
specific purpose within a particular context from creative tool users that use a variety of
tools for solving numerous problems. Chapter 2 by Boesch (BEcology and Cognition of
Tool Use in Chimpanzees^) builds on these ideas by pointing out that non-tool-using
animals may have the cognitive ability to do so but that material composition of the
environment could present limitations or anatomical factors could make it unnecessary.
The importance of differentiating types of tool use is also discussed, and a four-tier
classification system (simple, combined, sequential, composite) is suggested and then
used to explain differences in chimpanzee and capuchin tool use and cognition. Finally,
Chapter 3 by Byrne, Sanz, and Morgan (BChimpanzees Plan Their Tool Use^) focuses
on tool making rather than tool use, as the former is argued to require forethought. The
authors suggest that chimpanzeesuse of individual tools for multiple tasks, combined
with the fact that they carry around these tools, constitutes planning.
Part 2 consists of four chapters. Chapter 4 by Emery (BInsight, Imagination and
Invention: Tool Understanding in a Non-tool-using Corvid^) compares multiple tool
use experiments of non-tool-using rooks to tool-using New Caledonian crows and
chimpanzees. Non-tool-using rooks are successful at sequential tool use and modifica-
tion of materials, suggesting that non-tool-using animals may be capable of insight and/
or that tool use in crows and chimpanzees may not necessarily indicate higher cognitive
ability. In Chapter 5 by Hunt, Gray, and Taylor (BWhy Is Tool Use Rare in Animals?^),
the authors estimate the frequency of independent occurrence of tool use across major
taxonomic groups. This qualitative comparative analysis suggests that 1) tool use is
present in most taxonomic groups; 2) tools are more often used for subsistence rather
than self-care; and 3) tool use in invertebrates and fish are stereotyped and widespread
within species, whereas this is not the case for the more flexible tool use seen in certain
birds and mammals. Chapter 6 by Ruiz and Santos (BUnderstanding Differences in the
Way Human and Nonhuman Primates Represent Tools: The Role of Teleological-
Intentional Information^) presents a hypothesis to explain why human tool use is more
complex and pervasive than that of nonhuman animals. The authors suggest that
humans consider socially relevant aspects, e.g., intentional information, rather than
simply physical aspects when representing tool use, while nonhuman primates choose
to ignore such information when physical affordances are clear. Chapter 7 by Tebbich
and Teshke (BWhy Do Woodpecker Finches Use Tools?^) discusses long-term studies
Book Review 609
of woodpecker finch tool use structured around Niko Tinbergens(1963)fourlevelsof
analysis: functional, ontogenetic, mechanistic, and phylogenetic. Conclusions include
that population-level tool use varies based on ecological conditions, and that tool use
does not involve social learning, but is the result of genetic predetermination. This
chapters strengths lie in the integration of different levels of analysis to understand
fully how a behavior such as tool use can have a selective advantage without requiring
significant increases in cognition; studies of tool use in many other taxa (particularly
primates) would benefit from this more comprehensive approach.
Part 3 consists of three chapters. Chapter 8 by Sanz and Morgan (BThe Social Context
of Chimpanzee Tool Use^) describes differences in tool use among chimpanzee popu-
lations and suggests that the social environment contributes to intraspecific variation.
The authors used social network analysis to highlight contextual differences in oppor-
tunities for social learning during tool use, as chimpanzees associate more with conspe-
cifics during termite fishing compared to other contexts. Chapter 9 by Meulman and van
Schaik (BOrangutan Tool Use and the Evolution of Technology^) provides a compre-
hensive orangutan tool catalog, and compares the occurrence of extractive, complex,
and cultural tool use to the chimpanzee tool repertoire. Chimpanzees show a higher
prevalence of tool use, particularly extractive complex tool use, and the authors suggest
that chimpanzee terrestriality explains these differences, as certain forms of social
learning and complex manipulations might only be possible in a terrestrial environment.
Chapter 10 by Visalberghi and Fragaszy (BThe Etho-Cebus Project: Stone-Tool Use by
Wild Capuchin Monkeys^) provides an overview of tool use in a wild population of
bearded capuchins, a group that is well known for placing hard-shelled palm nuts onto
flat anvil surfaces and striking them with heavy quartzite stones. The considerable
phylogenetic distance between Cebus and other primates known for habitual tool use
suggests a strong ecological component in the evolution of tool use in primates.
Part 4 consists of three chapters. Chapter 11 by Carvalho, Matsuzawa, and McGrew
(BFrom Pounding to Knapping: How Chimpanzees Can Help Us to Model Hominin
Lithics^) provides an overview of recent advancements in our understanding of
hominin and nonhuman primate archaeology. Methodological issues regarding identi-
fying and comparing different technologies are discussed, and the authors provide
multiple directions for potential future research in ape archaeology. Chapter 12 by
Caruana, dErrico, and Backwell (BEarly Hominin Social Learning Strategies Under-
lying the Use and Production of Bone and Stone Tools) is a helpful resource for those
interested in a cognitive perspective on archaeological data. The authors review
comparative research on social learning in chimpanzees and humans, and transitions
from bone to stone tool archaeology. A transition to more complex tools would have
intensified the neurocognitive demands relating to the executive control of actions,
which maps onto the scaling up and complexity of communities and the concomitant
importance of group cooperation. Chapter 13 by McPherron (BPerspectives on Stone
Tools and Cognition in the Early Paleolithic Record^) introduces the discipline of
cognitive archaeology and highlights the theoretical and methodological challenges
involved with inferring information about the minds of extinct species from static
remains. Particularly, the author focuses on the different approaches used to
operationalize theory in a testable manner.
Overall, this book provides a very useful overview of nonhuman and fossil human
tool use, and the authors of each chapter thoughtfully dissect how different types and
610 A.R. DeCasien et al.
aspects of tool use might necessitate different cognitive abilities. There are multiple
theoretical discussions regarding issues with equating tool use and intelligence, and
descriptions of numerous empirical studies that investigate this relationship. Though
there is a good mix of descriptions of multi- and single-species studies throughout,
there is an obvious bias toward discussion of nonhuman primates, particularly chim-
panzees. For example, Part 2, which focuses on comparative studies, lacks any formal
comparative analyses across species, either within or among orders. The last part of the
book, which focuses on fossil human tool use, would benefit from not assuming
cognition as a first principle, as previous chapters showed that tool use could evolve
without advanced cognition under the right socio-ecological circumstances. This ap-
proach would be particularly useful to apply to early Oldowan technology and the
emergence of stone tools in the fossil record. The book is available in softback at
discounted prices of around $3545, and so is relatively affordable compared to many
academic texts. It provides an interesting perspective on the evolution of tool use and
would be useful to students and researchers in a variety of disciplines, from archaeol-
Shumaker, R. W., Walkup, K. R., & Beck, B. B. (2011). Animal tool behavior: The use and manufacture of
tools by animals. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Tinbergen, N. (1963). On aims and methods of ethology. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 20,410433.
Book Review 611
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Ich habe in diesem Aufsatz kurz anzudeuten versucht, was meiner Ansicht nach das Wesentliche in Fragestellung und Methode der Ethologie ist und weshalb wir in Konrad Lorenz den Begründer moderner Ethologie erblicken. Hierbei habe ich vielleicht das Arbeitsgebiet der Ethologie weiter gefaßt, als unter Ethologen gebräuchlich ist. Wenn man aber die vielartige Arbeit jener Forscher übersieht, die sich Ethologen nennen, ist man zu dieser weiten Fassung geradezu gezwungen. Ich habe in meiner Darstellung weder Vollständigkeit noch Gleichgewicht angestrebt und, um zur Fortführung des Gesprächs anzuregen, ruhig meine Steckenpferde geritten, vor allem das Verhältnis zwischen Ethologie und Physiologie, die Gefahr der Vernachlässigung der Frage der Arterhaltung, Fragen der Methodik der ontogenetischen Forschung, und Aufgaben und Methoden der Evolutionsforschung.
Animal tool behavior: The use and manufacture of tools by animals
  • RW Shumaker