APR 03, 2015 5:51 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
APR 13, 2020
Plants & Animals
Lion Cubs' Curiosity Sometimes Leads Them Right Into Danger
APR 13, 2020
Lion Cubs' Curiosity Sometimes Leads Them Right Into Danger
Most people have probably heard the popular idiom ‘the curiosity killed the cat’ at some point in their live ...
APR 14, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
How Deer Antlers Can Teach Us About Cancer Treatment
APR 14, 2020
How Deer Antlers Can Teach Us About Cancer Treatment
Deer antlers grow faster than cancerous tumors.
APR 16, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Scientists Discover Evidence of Ancient Rainforest in Antarctica
APR 16, 2020
Scientists Discover Evidence of Ancient Rainforest in Antarctica
Back in 2017, Dr. Johann Klages and his team were going about their usual business of drilling into the seafloor to extr ...
MAY 28, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Pitcher Plants Inspire Kidney Stone Diagnostic
MAY 28, 2020
Pitcher Plants Inspire Kidney Stone Diagnostic
  Urine contains an abundance of dissolved salts and minerals such as calcium and uric acid. These can form crystal ...
MAY 25, 2020
Microbiology
The Symbiotic Bacteria That Stow Away in Ship-Destroying Clams
MAY 25, 2020
The Symbiotic Bacteria That Stow Away in Ship-Destroying Clams
Shipworms are known as the 'termites of the sea.' They are not actually worms; these infamous mollusks that have brought ...
MAY 25, 2020
Plants & Animals
Ever Wonder How Some Fish Produce Electricity?
MAY 25, 2020
Ever Wonder How Some Fish Produce Electricity?
When you hear the term ‘electric fish,’ the first thing that probably comes to mind is the infamous electric ...
Loading Comments...