Sydney: Fish are not exactly known to be smart, but new evidence suggests that they may even be able to use simple tools.
Researchers from Macquarie University and Central Queensland University reported on a tusk fish smashing open shells on an anvil to access the meat inside.
Tool use has long been associated with the rise of humans. For a long time, it was thought to be unique to humans, but studies soon showed that primates also used tools for various tasks such as cracking open nuts.
More recently, it has been revealed that a variety of birds also manufacture and use tools, which suggests that tool use in animals may be more common that once thought, according to a Macquarie statement.
"The pictures provide fantastic proof of these intelligent fish at work using tools to access prey that they would otherwise miss out on," said Culum Brown of Macquarie University.
"It is apparent that this particular individual does this on a regular basis judging by the broken shells scattered around the anvil," Brown added.
Tool use is inherently difficult underwater, especially for animals that lack hands. But these fish have found an ingenious solution. The tusk fish holds the shell in its mouth and twists its head violently to land alternating blows on the shell until it cracks open.
"We really need to spend more time filming underwater to find out just how common tool use is in marine fishes," says Brown, "It really is the final frontier down there."