Prepare to be surprised because contrary to what you know, humans are not the only ones using grinding tools. A species of parrots from Madagascar use tools like pebbles to break seashells.
The University of St. Andrews researchers decided to study the interesting behavior of 10 greater vasa parrots. The study’s duration was eight months and was held at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Park where the parrots are being held. The tools most often used by the parrots to grind were fruit pits, especially from dates and pebbles. The parrots were using them to help break seashells. What they do is they grind the shells and take calcium powder from there and they swallow it. They do this to maintain their necessary levels of calcium.
The main researcher of this study, Megan Lambert, said that the conclusion of this study only raises more questions. It is not yet found how do the parrots know how to use these tools and how they were capable of finding where to take calcium from. This remains an extremely rare phenomenon and hard to explain.
What is more interesting is that the greater vasa parrots even share their tools with other parrots in order to get the calcium they need together. But this doesn’t happen all the time, a parrot being seen protesting loudly when another parrot stole his grinding tool.
Lambert says that it is not known whether the wild greater vasa parrots also use tools or not. She says that due to the fact that these birds were being held in captivity for such a long time could have led to them copying the human behavior.
When the season for reproduction comes for the greater vasa parrots comes the grinding is done more often and thus becomes a lot more evident. These parrots need more calcium because calcium is essential when it comes to laying eggs.
Greater vasa parrots seashells grinding becomes more evident when the breeding season is about to come. Calcium is crucial for the formation of eggshells and they need it more while laying eggs. Their eggs are mostly made of calcium and contrary to mammals birds are not capable of storing calcium in their skeleton.
The greater vasa parrots remain a fascinating species. Maybe the fact that humans are not the only ones using grinding tools is only the first of many interesting things we’ll find out from further studies.
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