Degu Rodents Now Use Tools Like Little Fuzzy

Researchers in Japanís Institute of Physical and Chemical Research have taught degus how to use rakes to obtain food. Degus are small rodents closely related to chinchillas. This is apparently the first instance in which rodents have been taught to use tools.


(Degus learn to use rakes video)

The degu is placed on one side of a fence and sunflower seeds are placed on the other side. When provided with a small rake, the small rodents pull the seeds through. Degus are also referred to as the Brush-Tailed rat, even though they are closer to guinea pigs and chincillas. They are social animals who are able to coordinate their digging activities in constructing large burrows.

Science fiction fans are irresistibly reminded of the wonderful 1962 novel Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper. Although written as a juvenile, this novel has a grown-up preoccupation with the basic question "What makes us human?"

In the story, a distant planet is colonized under a charter to a large corporation. However, one of the conditions of the charter is that the planet does not have any sapient, human-like intelligent life.

The corporate lawyers are not very happy when a sol stone miner named Jack Holloway finds an odd little creature in his house, and then sees him using tools.


(Little Fuzzy cover art)

Update 27-Mar-2008 Here's a good example of their tool-using abilities.

A land-prawn, which must have gotten in while the door was open, was crossing the living room. Little Fuzzy ran after and past it, pivoted and brought the corner of the chisel edge down on the prawn's neck, neatly beheading it... then slid the chisel under it and flopped it over on its back, slapping it twice with the flat and cracking the undershell.

In their extraordinary 1974 novel The Mote in God's Eye, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle write about a race of beings trapped in an isolated solar system. One subspecies, the Watchmakers (nicknamed the Brownies), are small, rodent-like animals with remarkable tool-using abilities. Without realizing the danger, human visitors to the Mote allow Brownies into their ship. Eventually, the brass are concerned.

"Gunner, have you ever heard of 'Brownies' aboard this ship?"

"Well, not officially, Captain. I will say some of the spacers lately seem lately to believe in the Little People..."

"Some of the men in my watch sections, Captain - they say that if ye leave some food - grain, cereals, mess left-overs, anything at all - in the corridors or under your bunk along with something that needs fixing, it gets fixed."

...Microscopes with smoother focusing operations than the best things ever made by Leica Optical. A handmade lamp in the biology section. Boots and shoes customized to individual feet... sidearms individualized...

End update.

Via Scientists teach rodents to use rake.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/27/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Biology ")

Mushroom Coffin Returns You To Nature, Naturally
'She touched the leaf. She was wanted.' - Philip K Dick, 1954.

Mechanical Milking Of Microalgae For Fuel Production
'They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them.' - Hal Clement, 1950.

Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.

Bring Back Extinct Animals! Sort of.
'The worldwide network of genetic arks had a surfeit of pachyderms...' - David Brin, 1990

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.'

Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.

Healight Ultraviolet Endotracheal Device Has Covid-19 Treatment Potential
'He applied the tip of the instrument to the interior of the wound...'

Parents Use AI To See One Last Message From Their Deceased Son
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man?'

Satoshi Tomizu Creates Pocket Universes And Worldcraft Bubbles In Glass
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'

Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...'

I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Armano Remote Control Excavator
'The bulldozer moved through the... mine... '

OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.

Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'

Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.'

Gyroscopic Median-Straddling Mass Transit Vehicles
'It was among these leviathans that the little gyrocar was daring to thrust its puny self...'

Bigrating Laser Beam-Riding Light Sail Is Self-Correcting
'That sail will be twenty thousand miles at the wide part.'

ISS Astronauts Test Estee Lauder 'Advanced Night Repair' Skin Serum
'Out in the New Moon, just ask for what you want...'

LG Wing Twisting Smartphone Might Be Fun
'A polycarbon screen unfurled...'

Mushroom Coffin Returns You To Nature, Naturally
'She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.