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No. 13: Winter 1981

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New Definition For Humans Needed

One scientist has defined humans as "tool makers" as distinguished from "tool users." This distinction is necessary because several animals employ tools for simple tasks, such as fishing termites out of holes. However, Kitahara-Frisch points out in this paper that experiments by Wright with a young orangutan proved that at least one animal can actually make tools; that is, use one tool to make another. More specifically, Wright taught the orangutan to strike sharp flint flakes from a core and then use them to cut a cord and gain access to its favorite food.

(Kitahara-Frisch, J.; "Apes and the Making of Stone Tools," Current Anthropology, 21:359, 1980.)

Comment. Apparently, with orangutans, at least, no manipulative or cognitive barriers exist to prevent them from entering their own Stone Age.

Reference. The ability of non-human mammals to manufacture and use tools is cataloged at BMT11 in Biological Anomalies: Mammals I. To order, go to: here.

From Science Frontiers #13, Winter 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987