, Volume 30, Issue 3, p 865
Date: 24 Jun 2011

Tool use in the tuskfish Choerodon schoenleinii?

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Jane Goodall describes tool use as the use of an external object as a functional extension of mouth or hand in the attainment of an immediate goal (van Lawick-Goodall 1970). Tool use is often observed in a foraging context in a wide range of species, and complex feeding behaviors are not uncommon among marine fishes. For instance, wrasses crunch sea urchins against corals and use anvils to smash food into more manageable pieces (Paśko 2010, reviewed in Brown et al. 2006). In spite of the anecdotal evidence for the use of tools in marine fishes, there are few documented cases, particularly those based on observations in the wild. Here, we present evidence of a black spot tuskfish, Choerodon schoenleinii, Valenciennes, 1839 using a rock as an anvil to open a cockleshell that conforms to Goodall’s definition of tool use.

On 12 November 2006, S. Gardner was returning from an 18-m dive in the Keppel region of the southern Great Barrier Reef (−23.199°S, 151.099°E) when he heard a cracking noi ...