Saturday, February 27, 2016

Ingenuity and Serendipity - the importance of little things. Who first used tools?

Nature has been the greatest source of human invention and discovery.

Dr Abe V Rotor

If you think you cannot do much, and that the little you can do is of no value, think of these things.

1. A tea kettle singing on a stove was the beginning of the steam engine. 

2. A shirt wavibg on the clothesline was the beginning of a balloon, the forerunner of Graf Zeppelin. 

3. A spider web strung across a garden path suggested the suspension bridge.
4. A lantern swinging in a tower as the beginning of a pendulum.

5. An apple falling from a tree led to the discovery of the law of gravity

We may not know who first discovered fire, invented the wheel, the fish hook, or thought of the idea of a pyramid.  We can only wonder on the ingenuity of the inventors of the scissor and the sewing needle,  And the paper clip for that matter.

But who first used tools? 

1. The otter playfully lies on its back in water, crushes its food shells with stones on its chest. 

2. The eagle takes up in the air a piece of bone, aims and drops it accurately hitting a rock in order to break, then it comes down and eats on the bone marrow.  

File:The Crow and the Pitcher - Project Gutenberg etext 19994.jpg3. The macaque uses stick which it probes into a termite nest in order to gather ermites which it eventually eats.  Some birds do the same in exracting the larvae of tree borers. 

4. Crows drop stones in pitchers to raise the height of water inside, just like in Aesop's fable.

5. Orangutans make improvised whistles from bundles of leaves, which they use to help ward off predators.

6. Elephants  plug up water holes with balls of chewed bark to keep other animals from drinking them away.

7. Dolphins carry marine sponges in their beaks to stir ocean-bottom sand and uncover prey. 

8. Gorillas  are known to use branches as walking sticks to test water depth and trunks from shrubs as makeshift bridges to cross deep patches of swamp.

9. Weaver ants glue leaves to make their nest. They train their larvae to secrete glue while members of the colony pull the leaves together.

10. Orangutans use a stick to poke a bees' nest wall, move it around and catch the honey.

Reference: Living with Nature AVR, Livescience

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