Hakai Magazine


How to Use an Anvil (If You’re a Wrasse)

Fish aren’t fools—they use tools.

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Text by Marina Wang
Illustrations by Mercedes Minck

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The latest species to be added to the ever-expanding list of animals that use tools are colorful, tropical fish that know their way around an underwater anvil. Biologists have documented wrasse species smashing prickly urchins against rocks and hard corals to eat the soft insides—like picking up a coconut and bashing it against a rock to get to the meaty innards.

Back in 1960, Jane Goodall crushed the perception that humans were the only tool users when she observed chimpanzees using sticks to eat ants. In the decades since, scientists have observed tool use in a range of animals, from dolphins to crows to crocodiles.

Over the past 50 years, biologists have also documented 18 wrasse species using tools to crack open hard prey. A new study from researchers at the National Centre of Biological Sciences in Bengalūru, India, and the Blanes Centre for Advanced Studies in Spain, adds three more species to the list.

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Cite this Article:

Cite this Article: Marina Wang Mercedes Minck “How to Use an Anvil (If You’re a Wrasse),” Hakai Magazine, May 3, 2024, accessed May 17th, 2024, https://hakaimagazine.com/videos-visuals/how-to-use-an-anvil-if-youre-a-wrasse/.

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