When all you have is a rock, everything looks like a snail

Jessica wondered if otters that ate a lot of snails—“snail specialists”—would use tools more often than other otters.

The Aquarium’s long-term commitment to tracking and observing individual otters helped answer that question. Jessica found that snail specialists are indeed more likely to use tools. But she also found something surprising: Snail specialists are more likely to use tools to open other kinds of prey.

“When a snail specialist comes up with an urchin, they really don’t need to use a tool,” Jessica says. “But they’re much more likely to try to use one anyway…”