Monkeys Using Tools?

by Ken Ham on March 6, 2013

Every so often, another story comes up in the news about animals that are supposedly demonstrating a more human intelligence because of their ability to use tools. On the Answers in Genesis website alone, we’ve collected and commented on a variety of reports about animals using tools. From spear-making chimpanzees to crows that can use tools to their advantage, evolutionists love to use these as alleged proof that animals are closer to human intelligence than we think.

For example, in 2005, we wrote about widely circulated stories of gorillas in the wild using tools in an article titled Gorillas and Tools? And do you know what the observers found so impressive then?

A female gorilla crossed a pool of water by using a detached stick to test the water depth and then trying to use it as a walking stick. The second case involved another female gorilla who picked up a dead shrub and used it to lean on while looking for food in a swamp. According to the BBC report, she then placed the trunk down on the swampy ground and used it as a bridge.
You can read two more stories on apes using tools from our weekly News to Note publication at the links below: In another example from 2009–2010, there were a few stories about the intelligence of crows. One of the cases involved crows who were able to use one tool to retrieve another tool, and so on, until they were able to use an appropriate-length tool to retrieve food deep inside a tube. Now, it’s important to note that the crows only used one tool after another—they didn’t actually use these tools to create a new tool. (Read our article on this topic at this link.)

And there’s much more.  Here are just a few of the many examples:

  • Otters have been observed using rocks to crack open their food (e.g., oysters and crustaceans).
  • Elephants use rocks as damaging weapons.
  • The Egyptian vulture uses rock-throwing to crack open large ostrich eggs.
  • Molting Brown bears in Alaska have been observed using rocks to exfoliate.
  • Several species of wrasses (fish) have been observed using rocks as anvils to crack bivalve shells.
Well, the newest report comes from Live Science. The article’s main point is in its title: “Nut-Cracking Monkeys Show Humanlike Skills.” So what’s so skillful about how these monkeys are cracking open nuts?

The monkeys actually place the nuts on a stone anvil to keep them steady for cracking. While this is a remarkable demonstration of how God has gifted animals for survival, the researchers have taken their conclusions too far:

That means the monkeys are able to not only use tools, but to use them with finesse. This ability may be a precursor to humans' ability to adapt tools to different circumstances and to use them smoothly under varying conditions.
This ability is really nothing special. Animals are clearly able to make use of objects and even to create tools for basic purposes, like hunting or getting past obstacles. So what distinguishes an animal’s use of tools from a human’s? Well, although animals can create some basic tools, they haven’t been able to create tools and then use those tools to create more advanced, precise tools. Humans do that.

Only humans make tools that can make more tools. Man was made in the image of God, clearly distinct from animals and birds (Genesis 1:27), which means that we can think and create at a level that no animal ever could. A good example of this is man’s use of grammar and syntax, which no animal has ever exhibited. Intelligent behavior in apes and other animals, whether it’s innate, learned, or imitated, does not discount this biblical truth—no matter how much evolutionists claim it does.

What I usually find is that when it is an ape or monkey seen to be using something as a tool, it’s headline news. Why? Because humans are supposedly closely related to apes and also to monkeys.  It doesn’t work for evolutionists to talk about a fish or an otter or crow using an object as a tool, as those creatures (from an evolutionary perspective) are not closely related to man!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,


I thank Steve Golden for his assistance in composing this blog item.

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