Tool use by Choerodon cyanodus when handling vertebrate prey
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KeywordsElectronic Supplementary Material Bivalve Prey Item Body Position Gape Size
The use of an anvil during prey handling fulfils the criteria of tool use and can be considered a sign of intelligence (Jones et al. 2011). Tool use has only recently been described for fishes and is currently limited to wrasses handling invertebrate prey (e.g., breaking open cockles and bivalves; Jones et al. 2011; Bernardi 2012). Here, we extend this behaviour to a further tuskfish species and provide the first documentation of this behaviour for a vertebrate prey item.
It is unknown whether the use of the anvil was just to incapacitate the turtle to aid prey handling or whether it also functioned to break open the carapace to help with swallowing and digestion. However, this behaviour shows that tool use may indeed be particularly common in the ancestral Choerodon genus and potentially a deep-seated behavioural trait in wrasses (Bernardi 2012), and used for a wider range of prey items than previously known. Whether this behaviour extends to other groups of fishes, allowing them to eat prey items larger than their gape size, remains a tantalising question.
ARH was funded by Australian Research Council fellowship DE120102459. We thank C. Cordeiro and M. Priest.
Supplementary material 1 (MP4 31458 kb)