New Caledonian Crow with a Stick Photo: Auguste von Bayern Let's say there is a hundred dollar bill lying behind…
New Caledonian Crow with a Stick Photo: Auguste von Bayern
Let’s say there is a hundred dollar bill lying behind a bookcase just outside your reach, and next to the shelf there is a set of TinkerToys. Even a small child could probably catch some of the pins to fish the bill. But how about an animal? A particularly clever snap seems to have produced this problem on its own.
New Caledonian crows are heavy hitter when it comes to smart, famous for their games and advanced tool skills. But a new paper shows the birds that demonstrate tool-making behaviors that have been seen only in humans and captivity tunes. They collected new tools from the constituents.
“We wanted to know how inventive they are if they can solve a new issue they do not usually meet by assembling components to reach,” studyes author Auguste von Bayern of the Max Planck Institute for Ornitology and Oxford University told Gizmodo. “It’s really testing their creative ability.”
The researchers began with eight wild-caught New Caledonian Crows. They first presented the crows with a transparent box that contained food on a track like, if printed to the end would come out of the box, they also added wooden floors long enough to reach the food and push it along the track. This was known by the crowds with the task. Then, the researchers placed the food outside the rails and spread combined pieces on the floor near the collar and on an upright tool holder cylindrical pieces that fit into each other to create a longer tool.
Four of the birds (named Tumulte, Tabou, Mango and Jungle) successfully created a longer tool from the pieces to pick up the food. Three of the birds successfully resolved the task again in follow-up attempts, but Mango, “a bird with clear fluctuating motivation” refused to participate in the follow-ups according to the study published in Scientific Reports. The other four continued to target the food with the short rods and disqualified.
The researchers continued to expose the birds to these types of tests, but when the food was out of reach of a two-component tool, only Mango knew what to do: he made three-piece and four-piece tools. It turns out he was motivated enough to surpass his peers. The findings presented here “match and surpass current evidence of this ability of non-human primates,” the authors write.
This is a small study, and does not understand the birds in nature. New caledic crows are well-known tool users, fashion hooks for feeding). But it is still “really amazing” that the birds experienced the relatively complicated task. “It is not surprising that chimpanzees can do things similar to human children,” says von Bayern. “But to find such similar achievements in remote relatives suggests that they have developed their cognitive abilities independently.”
Researchers are ultimately interested in how intelligence has evolved and how ecological factors can influence how cognitive ability develops.
Who knows what the birds learn to build next? Especially Mango. Watch out for him.