More than fifty years ago, humans were pretty well convinced that they were special, different from the rest of the animal kingdom. That all changed in 1964 when Jane Goodall reported her observations of tool use in chimpanzees. Now we have evidence that Goffin's cockatoos, parrots that don't use tools in the wild, have the cognitive capacity to learn to manufacture, modify, and use tools anyway.
Entries in Cacatua goffiniana - Tanimbar Corella (8)
Figaro may not be as talented an inventor as Leonardo da Vinci, but among Goffin's cockatoos, he's a prodigy. In their natural habitat—the forests of Indonesia these cockatoos have never been seen making or using tools. But researchers report today—that Figaro, a member of a captive colony of the birds in Austria, invents and uses stick tools of his own design. Although toolmaking and use is not uncommon in animals, this type of spontaneous innovation and individual creativity is "exceedingly rare" among nonhuman animals, the scientists note, and opens up many questions about the cognitive skills required. Understanding these processes, they say, may help unlock many of the questions about the evolution of intelligence.