Saturday, August 18, 2007

Crows rival monkeys in learning tool use

A fascinating experiment has found that one species of crow can not only use tools to get food out of a hole too deep for their beaks, but can figure out a more complex problem: using a short stick, the only tool within reach, to get another stick which is long enough to get the food. Russell Gray of the University of Auckland in New Zealand reports, "It was surprising to find that these 'bird-brained' creatures performed at the same levels as the best performances by great apes on such a difficult problem." Three of seven crows grasped the solution immediately, without any trial-and-error: all seven learned it within 25 tries, a better record than posted by capuchin monkeys in a 2003 experiment.
Calling someone a "Bird brain" just may become a compliment....

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