Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use
Candlewick Press, 2021
48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99
Move over, humans! We’re not the only creatures who can invent and use tools to keep ourselves fed, warm, safe, healthy, comfortable—even entertained. Thanks to the careful observations of biologists working in the field, we now know that elephants use sunscreen, long-tailed macaques floss their teeth, assassin bugs use bait to lure their prey, orangutans make pillows, and crows will go sledding just for fun.
Defining a tool as “any functional object, fashioned or found, that is not part of the user”, the reader is taken on a fascinating tour around the world examining creatures that use tools including the boxer crab and bottlenose dolphin of our region to the African elephant and even the bald eagle. For thousands of years, humans believed that only they were intelligent enough to invent and use tools but since the 1960s, particularly, scientists specialising in observing animal behaviour have proven this to be a fallacy as they the many ways that the animal kingdom uses and adapts common objects to meet their needs in their quest for survival.
Those uses include health and healing, defence, hunting, harvesting and eating, and comfort and joy and the book has been divided into these sections, with examples of each. So while the elephant uses straw, grass, mud, and sometimes vomit to protect itself from the burning rays of the sun, the orangutan uses large tropical leaves like umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain.
With large and small realistic illustrations, some with a touch of whimsy, to support the readily accessible text, this is one for independent readers fascinated by our natural world and who want to know more about a topic they may not have even thought about. To support their reading there is a map, glossary, bibliography, and index so as well as the content, they can also learn how to navigate a print non fiction text.