Animals, Science & Space

Pigs Have Been Recorded Using Tools For The First Time

Pigs Have Been Recorded Using Tools For The First Time

Pigs aren’t an animal you’d consider to be intelligent, and they often don’t get enough credit for how intelligent they really are. Despite this, these mud loving animals have shocked scientists, as they have recently documented a group of pigs using tools for the first time.

While observing the pigs at Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris, Meredith Root-Bernstein noticed one of the females, named Priscilla, digging a nesting area with a stick in her mouth.

“She would deposit some leaves, move them to a different spot on the mound, and dig a bit with her nose,” Meredith Root-Bernstein, lead study author, wrote in her observation notes back in October 2016.

“At one point she picked up a flat piece of bark about 10 cm x 40 cm that was lying on that mound, and holding it in her mouth, used it to dig, lifting and pushing the soil backward, quite energetically and rapidly.”

In a series of later experiments in 2016 and 2017, Root-Bernstein and her team of researchers later documented three out of four of the pigs scooping out soil using a stick in their mouth.

“This suggests that the behaviour was transmitted socially between the family,” say the researchers.

It appears that the real display of intelligence in regards to tool use is flexibility and adaptivness. Because some animals are surrounded by other animals that “use tools” a lot of the time to complete simple tasks, all they have to do is observe and copy.  Some animals have it “ingrained” in them to do things with the help of other objects. The pig in the video above was not prompted to use the tool, but instead adapted to its current circumstances and used a “tool” to complete the task at hand, which you could consider to be a totally different skill; pigs aren’t around other pigs that use tools, so they are unable to copy what they see, unlike other animals.

While the researchers say it’s not totally clear where the pigs’ digging behaviour that can be described as an innovative use of objects and your surroundings, they do argue it can be defined as the first observed unprompted tool use in the Suidae family, the band of mammals that includes pigs, hogs, and boars.



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