ysabetwordsmith: (Fly Free)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This is the freebie for today's Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] capriuni.  It also fills the "kittens and puppies" square in my 6-10-15 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest.


"The Superfluity of Thumbs"


For a long time, scientists thought
that tool use was exclusive to humanity
and required opposable thumbs.

Then they started to realize that
some animals could use tools
even if they hadn't invented them,
like kittens trained to use a toilet
instead of a litterbox.

Some wild animals turned out
to use tools as well, such as
octopodes carrying seashells
or coconut shells for shelter.

Others used them for fun,
like birds snowboarding
down a roof on a plastic lid.

Tool use, is seems, is not
limited by physique or species,
only by ingenuity.

* * *

Animal tool use has taken time to discover.  Domesticated animals can be trained to use tools, such as toilet-training a cat. In the wild, octopodes use coconuts and seashells for shelter, and birds use plastic lids as snowboards.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-01-05 08:10 pm (UTC)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From: [personal profile] capriuni
^_^

That crow video is great, too, because it breaks the assumption that life in the wild is an unending, and joyless struggle for survival.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2016-01-05 09:21 pm (UTC)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From: [personal profile] capriuni
And brings to mind that if sports equipment is a tool, then play is as vital as house building.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2016-01-05 11:13 pm (UTC)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From: [personal profile] capriuni
*Nod*

It is one of the most enduring tenets of my personal belief (whether there are a myriad gods in my personal pantheon or none) that the central purpose of existence is to experience joy. And if that's true at one level on the life web, it must also be true throughout. So I never bought into the "miserable, brutish, and short" model for what so-called real life is like.

Snowboarding crows and bubble juggling dolphins seem to back me up in this.

Charming and thought-provoking!

Date: 2016-01-05 08:37 pm (UTC)
ext_132468: Photo of strawberry-filled daifuku (Default)
From: [identity profile] freshbakedlady.livejournal.com
There's something so cozy about an octopus with a shelter like that. It's always good to have a little place to retreat to when needed.

I had never considered toilet training as a form of tool use in cats. I wonder if there is a formal distinction made in the study of this between natural (?) tool use and trained. Or perhaps, since plenty of tool use is taught by parents to offspring, a distinction between intra- and interspecies tool learning? It seems like a distinct case, yet it also seems wrong to suggest it doesn't qualify as tool use at all.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-01-05 10:51 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
*nods* Otters using rocks on shellfish, monkeys using sticks down an anthole to grab ants.... and whales using humans to get unstuck from nets laid down by other (stupid and/or careless) humans....
Edited Date: 2016-01-05 10:54 pm (UTC)

Yes...

Date: 2016-01-05 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
The diversity of tool use in the animal kingdom is high. :D

Re: Yes...

Date: 2016-01-05 11:08 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
*sarcasm* I dunno, in America the tool users - and the tools - mostly seem to be white male.... */sarcasm*

Was that my out loud voice?

Re: Yes...

Date: 2016-01-05 11:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Depends on your use of tools. Women have more experience in household tools for cooking and crafts, on average. Lower-class people pretty much have to know how to do everything for themselves. Rich people can afford to be non-tool-users.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2016-01-06 12:34 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Poor people use tools. Rich people use poor people.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2016-01-06 01:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>_< Painfully true.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-01-06 12:33 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Dolphins use sponges to protect their noses when grubbing in sand for skates and rays. I've also seen squirrels use pedestrian crossings to open nuts, they press the button, wait for the traffic to stop, put the nut on the road, wait until the lights turn green, and press the button again. A car makes a pretty good nut cracker. Mind, I think we might have an unusual bunch of squirrels around here, as I have personally seen them use glass shards as weapons to fend off predators.

Hmm...

Date: 2016-01-06 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Dolphins use sponges to protect their noses when grubbing in sand for skates and rays.<<

That one I've seen.

>> I've also seen squirrels use pedestrian crossings to open nuts, they press the button, wait for the traffic to stop, put the nut on the road, wait until the lights turn green, and press the button again. A car makes a pretty good nut cracker. <<

The video of this behavior that I saw was featuring crows.

>>Mind, I think we might have an unusual bunch of squirrels around here, as I have personally seen them use glass shards as weapons to fend off predators.<<

O_O That I have not seen.

Thank you!

Date: 2016-01-06 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you enjoyed this.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-01-06 01:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhodielady-47.livejournal.com
I'd already seen the octopi carrying shells and coconuts to use as shelter but the crow snowboarding is completely new to me!
8^)

Yes...

Date: 2016-01-06 01:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I keep an eye out for these things. The octopus with the seashells was new to me.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-01-07 01:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fayanora.livejournal.com
Yup yup. And given that birds can make complex nests just using their beaks, I wouldn't be surprised if they could do more than that.

I have a sentient species in my main fantasy universe, who are sentient ravens. Just looking like ordinary ravens, they use their beaks to make tools and stuff, even cooperating with one another to make things that require more than one beak. I haven't worked out their level of tech yet, but it should be fun to do so. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-13 12:55 am (UTC)
callibr8: (Yaaaaay)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
This is delightful! Both intrinsically and as yet another example of *good* poetry that both entertains *and informs*. If we ever have the time (which won't be soon, I know!), it might be a Really Cool Thing to create an index of your "teaching" poems; I know I've encountered at least one in every series I recall reading. Just sayin'.

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