Thursday, August 6, 2009

Intelligent Crows?

Science Daily: Crows Can Use 'Up To Three Tools' In Correct Sequence Without Training.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2009) — New experiments by Oxford University scientists reveal that New Caledonian crows can spontaneously use up to three tools in the correct sequence to achieve a goal, something never before observed in non-human animals without explicit training.

Sequential tool use has often been interpreted as evidence for advanced cognitive abilities, such as planning and analogical reasoning, but this has never been explicitly examined.

The researchers set out to investigate what the crows really understood about the tasks and their own actions with tools. A report of their research appears in the journal PLoS One.


Quantum_Flux said...


Anonymous said...


Been very busy and just found time to review your latest - Crows - very intelligent species.

Australia has a problem with Cane Toads, poisonous things which have caused some problems with the native species, and any animal which eats a cane toad dies from the poison glands on its back.

Australian crows however have worked out that if you flip the toad onto its back, then a sumptous meal can be had by eating its underbelly.

How the heck crows worked this out remains mysterious, and it reminds me of the 100th monkey phenomenon, reported, I think, by biologist Lyall Watson some years back.

Jeffery Keown said...

It's an elegant example of how evolution works. In their native environment, lots of animals are immune to their toxins, in Australia, everything is subject to the poisons.

The crows developed a strategy against an invasive species that were introduced by mankind.

Crows learn and adapt like humans and other intelligent species. Possibly, they tested this flipping technique on other species of toads (it would make it hard for the toad to escape) and noticed that it worked with cane toads by avoiding the bufotoxins. In very short time, it would have spread to other populations of crows by example, becoming the standard for dealing with this particular meal.

The other possibility is that they accidently flipped a cane toad and noticed that nobody died when eating them upside down. Only the ones that used this technique survived to be an example for others.

This kind of adaptive behavior is not unique to mankind, but we are able to write stuff down, thus passing information across generations.

Intelligence is a gradiant, from reaction to impulse to instinct to emotion all the way to reasoning and imagination.

Quantum_Flux said...

Simulation of Galaxy Collisions