Things that made me laugh today, and some that have intrigued me.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
How Smart Are Crows?
New Caledonian crows are known for using tools in the wild. A team is investigating the cognitive abilities of these crows, which live on the archipelago of New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific Ocean, 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) east of Australia.
It was there, on the island of Grand Terre, that Sarah Jelbert, a doctoral student at Auckland University in New Zealand, and her colleagues tested the crows' understanding of cause and effect by presenting them with a test straight out of Aesop's Fables.
In one fable, "The Crow and the Pitcher," a thirsty crow can't reach the water at the bottom of a pitcher, but then begins to drop one pebble after another into the vessel. Slowly, the water rises to the top, and the bird gets its drink. How did Jelbert's New Caledonian crows measure up when presented with a similar test?
The scientists recently published their results in PLOS One. National Geographic caught up with Jelbert by phone to ask her more about the study and these smart birds.