Porcine preoccupations have largely remained undocumented — until now. A team of researchers from several French institutions is laying claim to a first: Pigs, they said, have learned to use tools.
The team’s recent findings, published in the September issue of Mammalian Biology, span more than three years and document nearly a dozen instances of the famously mohawked Visayan warty pigs using sticks and bark to dig nesting holes in the ground.
Researcher Mededith Root-Bernstein has uploaded footage of the industrious porker to YouTube.
Who taught the pigs to dig? Researchers point to social learning.
“Our observations suggest the hypothesis that the observed use of stick to dig with could have been socially learned through vertical transmission (mother-daughter) as well as horizontal transmission (female-male),” the researchers wrote.
“Observations of unprompted tool use represented for the first time in a phylogenetic family are rare. These open new possibilities for research on tool use and social learning.”
It’s doubtful pigs will be wielding power tools any time soon, however. When researchers offered the pigs some spatulas to use, the pigs only took them up on the offer twice.