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When it comes to innovation, think pig

Their tools are still quite basic, but can they end up hogging our planet?

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Oct 14, 2019, 08.04 AM IST
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Considering pigs have been deemed the fifth smartest animal in the world, it should not come as a surprise that a family of Visayan warty pigs — an endangered wild species — has been recently espied using pieces of bark to facilitate nest-building.
We know that crows are pretty smart — 'Panchatantra' tales are replete with stories of the bird outwitting all manner of creatures — as indeed are elephants, dolphins and chimpanzees. But humans have played dirty with pigs, focusing on their alleged slovenliness to the extent that it subsumed all their other attributes, especially intelligence. Considering pigs have been deemed the fifth smartest animal in the world, it should not come as a surprise that a family of Visayan warty pigs — an endangered wild species — has been recently espied using pieces of bark to facilitate nest-building. While this porcine talent may lack the visual wow-factor of a crow drinking water from a container using pebbles to raise the level, their feat cannot be underestimated. More so since this species is known to tests electric fences with rocks before attempting to breach them, and some wild boars fastidiously wash their food before pigging out.

It is thought that the smartest pigs ‘discover’ a new tool or method and teach others. Stone tools made by primates over 4,300 years ago have been discovered in West Africa and more recent ones in South America. Just a few thousand years ago, human beings were also fashioning undoubtedly rudimentary tools; and now we have nuclear weapons. So where exactly are these brainy animals heading with their talents?

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