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Could there ever be an incentive for a fish or other aquatic being to use simple tools, like early humans did?

Would it be possible for any structure of a current water-dwelling being (for example, a fin) to adapt into a form that can grasp and use tools, (for example, a hand)?

To be clear, this question is not about currently land-dwelling humans, or human-like creatures could adapt to underwater. Rather, it is specifically about species that started out in water.

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    $\begingroup$ If you go far back enough humans are descended from aquatic animals such as fish so some aquatic animals evolved to live on land and then later evolved to stand on two legs allowing them to use hands. $\endgroup$ – Anders Gustafson Aug 13 '16 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ what about tentacles? $\endgroup$ – Charon Aug 13 '16 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ @渡し守シャロン I've seen enough Hentai to know where this is going... $\endgroup$ – Chris J Aug 13 '16 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ @AndersGustafson You see, the difference is that we humans came to land and then evolved hands. I am thinking about an animal evolving hands during its life underwater. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Franke Jan 8 '18 at 2:48
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Given enough time, totally.

The first (bad) reflex would be to claim "Hey! It never happened in 3 billion year, why would it happen now?"

Well... Even in terrestrial animal, there is only one branch that ever grown (real) hand. So if one given proto-lemur accidentally died instead of accidentally survive some 80 million years ago, there would never have terrestrial animal with hands. But we know it can occur.

Many amphibious or aquatic animal have organ that fulfill the role of a hand (such as the whole body of a starfish or tail of seahorse ) so there is a need.

Many amphibious animal have limbs that are close enough from a hand. Look at the frog photo that Chris J posted.

You have the (almost) formed organ and you have a use for it... This will or will not happen, but it's definitely not impossible.

Not a hand...yet

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Octopus already use tools. And if seeing is believing, check it out. The animal kingdom has a plethora of examples of tool use: not only cephalopods, but insects, fish and reptiles, as well as sea-faring mammals.

So, yes. If the animal thinks of it, and it turns out to be of benefit, animals will definitely use tools. Presumably, left to their own devices this tool use would advance until further development is no longer useful.

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Check out this toad source

enter image description here

He looks pretty handsy to me already.. it would then be a case of developing a need to use them in novel ways

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    $\begingroup$ That toad seems like he's dancing to some metal music. $\endgroup$ – Renan Aug 13 '16 at 18:02
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There are species of fish and aquatic salamanders with "hands", though they use them to walk across the sea floor. Tool-use among aquatic species is already in evidence, so the challenge is conceiving a scenario in which these fish use their hands more like hands. Gripping surfaces instead of padding over them, or raking the sand for buried prey, could be the intermediate stage. From there the fish has to discover the benefits and utility of carrying and manipulating objects (defense, nest-making, or shelter seem likely).

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There are some bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia that use tools.

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Of course. Hands are in every environment very useful. And since evolution supports the development of beneficial things it is not unlikely that amphibious creatures could evolve hand-like limbs.

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