Innovation by non-human animals is really rare.

Researchers have discovered two chimpanzee communities living 6km apart with apparently very different cognitive abilities. In one community, the chimpanzees use a combination of a large stone and a small stone to crack nuts. The chimpanzee places the nut on the large stone and cracks it open with the small stone. The researchers, however, conclude that chimpanzees do not in general innovate nut cracking. Rather, the community was probably lucky enough to start nut cracking once by virtue of a chance discovery or the efforts of an exceptional chimpanzee. Subsequently, so-called high-fidelity social learning then enabled the discovery to be passed down through the generations in that community. The other community doesn’t crack nuts. They are not less intelligent; they simply didn’t get lucky.

Link to article:

You might also like to browse other ethology posts: