Bird Brain

Posted on December 14, 2008  Comments (6)

Bird-brains smarter than your average ape

In a recent study 20 individuals from the great ape species were unable to transfer their knowledge from the trap-table and trap-tube or vice versa, despite the fact that both these puzzles work in the same way. Strikingly the crows in The University of Auckland study were able to solve the trap-table problem after their experience with the trap-tube.

“The crows appeared to solve these complex problems by identifying causal regularities,” says Professor Russell Gray of the Department of Psychology. “The crows’ success with the trap-table suggests that the crows were transferring their causal understanding to this novel problem by analogical reasoning. However, the crows didn’t understand the difference between a hole with a bottom and one without. This suggests the level of cognition here is intermediate between human-like reasoning and associative learning.”

“It was very surprising to see the crows solve the trap-table,” says PhD student Alex Taylor. “The trap table puzzle was visually different from the trap-tube in its colour, shape and material. Transfer between these two distinct problems is not predicted by theories of associative learning and is something not even the great apes have so far been able to do.”

Related: Cool Crow ResearchOrangutan Attempts to Hunt Fish with SpearBackyard Wildlife: CrowsDolphins Using Tools to Hunt

6 Responses to “Bird Brain”

  1. Frank Polenose
    December 15th, 2008 @ 6:24 am

    I’ve heard of this before…also with squirrels. Not 100% sure if it proves “intelligence” as such…generally animals will repeat repetitive actions for reward and some argue this isn’t actually “intelligence.” I’m open minded on this though!

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