APR 03, 2015 05:51 AM PDT

Smarter Than the Average...Crow?

A new study of the intelligence of New Caledonian crows suggests that the birds have reasoning powers roughly equal to those of a five to seven-year-old child.
New Caledonian crows found to be as smart as some children
The research, which was published in the journal Plos One, subjected six wild crows to a range of tests including a "water displacement" tasks based on one of Aesop's fables, ‘The Crow and the Pitcher'.
In the test (and the fable) the thirsty crow has to drink out of narrow container filled with water. The bird cannot reach the liquid but works out that it can raise the water level by dropping stones into the pitcher.

When the crows were faced with this task they not only completed it, but did so in the most efficient way possible, choosing containers with higher water levels and choosing objects that were solid, rather than hollow, to raise the water level.

However, it wasn't all easy for the crows, and birds were stumped by more difficult tasks involving a U-shaped container with hidden connections. In this the birds were supposed to drop stones into one of the pipes to raise the water level in the other but "showed no signs of learning which tube would bring the reward."
"These results are striking as they highlight both the strengths and limits of the crows' understanding," said Sarah Jelbert from University of Auckland, who led the study.
"In particular, the crows all failed a task which violated normal causal rules, but they could pass the other tasks, which suggests they were using some level of causal understanding when they were successful."

The study concluded that the birds' understanding of causal and effect was roughly equal to that of a five to seven-year old child. Caledonian crows, a species well known for their intelligence, have been observed making and using tools in the wild as well as placing nuts on busy roads so that they will be cracked by passing cars.
(Source: The Independent/UK)
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
SEP 18, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 18, 2018
Study Investigates Why People Like Bees and Dislike Wasps
Bees and wasps share a lot in common; the clear majority of both sport the familiar black and yellow color scheme, retain unpleasant stingers for self-defe...
SEP 20, 2018
Earth & The Environment
SEP 20, 2018
Biodiverse forests are more resilient to drought
Biodiversity is confirmed yet again to be a savior for vulnerable species. In a new study published in Nature, scientists determined that forests with more...
SEP 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 24, 2018
Here's Why Goat Eyes Look Weird
Taking a closer look at a goat’s eyeball, you might notice that their pupils are elongated from side-to-side rather than round like a human’s;...
SEP 25, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 25, 2018
Marine Animal Plastic Ingestion Data Leaves a Lot to be Desired
Most people would agree that plastic pollution is a problem that we can no longer afford to ignore; especially in that of our oceans. The rate at which uns...
OCT 03, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 03, 2018
These Weird Fish Live in Some of the Deepest Parts of the Ocean
While animal researchers are reasonably well-rounded about the types of species residing at mild depths, we still have a lot to learn about what inhabits t...
NOV 05, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 05, 2018
Anthropogenic Activity Reduces Bee Diversity, Study Confirms
Bee populations are in decline all over the globe, raising serious concerns about their current situation among conservationists. That said, researchers fr...
Loading Comments...