The adaptive value of tool-aided defense against wild animal attacks



Throughout history humans have faced the persistent threat of attacks by wild animals, and how humans respond to this problem can make the difference between survival and death. In theory, the use of tools to fend off animal attacks would be more effective than resisting bare-handed, yet evidence for the advantage of tool-aided defense is scarce and equivocal. Two studies of news accounts of wild animal attacks against humans were conducted to test the hypothesis that tool-aided defense is indeed associated with reductions in injuries and deaths. Results of both Study 1 (N=172) and Study 2 (N=370) supported the hypothesis. The observed survival advantage of tool-aided defense for modern humans suggests that this tactic also would have worked for human ancestors who lived more closely to dangerous wild animals. Aggr. Behav. 34:633–638. 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.