Just hire a chimpanzee to remodel your kitchen

Burt's Eye View

Science once proclaimed that what separated homo sapiens from all the other critters was that humans were the only creatures who fashioned and used tools.

(Humans also are the only creatures known to use credit cards and hold committee meetings. You may think your executive committee is made up of baboons, but you could not convince an actual baboon to present a quarterly report PowerPoint to the board of directors.)

Science sat smugly on its toolbox in all its inventive superiority — until it spotted wildlife making tools to accomplish more than ever happens at a standard business meeting.

Observe these examples:

Dolphins snatch marine sponges to sweep sand from the sea bottoms to uncover prey.

Bonobos craft sponges out of leaves and moss and soak them with water to use for grooming.

Chimpanzees sharpen sticks to use as hunting spears. They also use stones as hammers to open shells as well as fish for ants with sticks.

Hungry polar bears hurl ice chunks — with astounding force and accuracy — at walruses (which also tenderized the tusked steaks before eating them).

Elephants plug water holes with balls of chewed bark to hide drinking spots from competitors.

Orangutans fold leaves into whistles to scare off predators.

Gorillas trundle walking sticks into rivers, thus gauging water depth as they go.

Octopuses use large seashells as armor, kind of like a kid pulling on elbow pads and knee pads. Octopuses also store the shells in their hovels, meaning not only do they use tools, but tool sheds.

What does it all mean? That the animal kingdom is more adept with tools than I am.

I’ve never resorted to using a rock for a hammer, but I have whacked nails with a pair of pliers. I’ve also found out you can tighten screws with the bottom edge of a tube of suntan lotion.

I’m not good with tools. Not even a monkey wrench.

The roof leaks, the kitchen floor wobbles and my electrical service was installed by Thomas Edison himself one weekend in 1912. I tried to fix everything with my hammer with one claw, a saw missing a dozen teeth and a screwdriver with a chipped handle.

Now the kitchen floor leaks, the electric wobbles and the roof looks like it was installed by Thomas Edison himself with a phonograph needle.

I thought I finally had solved the problem. I hired an elephant, three gorillas, two chimpanzees, an octopus and a polar bear to remodel my home. They brought their own tools, including an orangutan armed with a power drill with rotary rasp and flexible extension attachments.

The plan was to rewire the house, hang new kitchen cabinets, add a rec room and finish the basement.

Everything went well until I made the fatal error: “OK, guys,” I yelled. “Huddle up. I’m calling a committee meeting to discuss how we’re going to tackle this project.”

Does anyone know how one lone human can hang drywall with a hammer with one claw, a saw missing a dozen teeth and a screwdriver with a chipped handle? And a light bulb that Thomas Edison left in 1912.

— Form a committee with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.


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