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Data from: Wild Goffin’s cockatoos flexibly manufacture and use tool sets


O'Hara, Mark et al. (2021), Data from: Wild Goffin’s cockatoos flexibly manufacture and use tool sets, Dryad, Dataset,


The use of different tools to achieve a single goal is considered unique to human and primate technology. To unravel the origins of such complex behaviors, it is crucial to investigate tool use that does not occur species wide. These cases can be assumed to have emerged innovatively and be applied flexibly, thus emphasizing creativity and intelligence. However, it is intrinsically challenging to record tool innovations in natural settings that do not occur species-wide. Here we report the discovery of two distinct tool manufacture methods and the use of tool sets in wild Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana). Up to three types of wooden tools, differing in their physical properties and each serving a different function, were manufactured and employed to extract embedded seed matter of Cerbera manghas. While Goffin's cockatoos do not depend on tool-obtained resources, repeated observations of two temporarily kept wild birds and indications from free-ranging individuals suggest this behavior occurs in the wild, albeit not species-wide. The use of a tool set in a non-primate implies convergent evolution of advanced tool use. Furthermore, these observations demonstrate how a species without hands can achieve dexterity in a high-precision task. This finding of flexible use and manufacture of tool sets in animals distantly related to humans significantly diversifies the phylogenetic landscape of technology.


Austrian Science Fund, Award: J4169–B29

Austrian Science Fund, Award: W1262–B 29

Austrian Science Fund, Award: Y01309

Vienna Science and Technology Fund, Award: CS18 023