Crows show advanced learning abilities

Dec 14, 2011
Corvus brachyrhynchos or Corvus caurinus. Image: Wikipedia.

New Caledonian crows have, in the past, distinguished themselves with their advanced tool using abilities. A team of researchers from the University of Auckland and the University of Cambridge have now shown these crows can learn to use new types of tools.

When confronted with the Aesop's fable , which requires stones to be dropped into a water-filled tube to bring floating food within reach, the crows quickly learned to use stones as tools.

They then preferred to drop into the tube large rocks rather than small rocks, and heavy objects over light objects (which floated on the surface of the water and so were ineffective).

Further experiments showed that the crows' performances were not based on simple learning, which suggests that the crows had some understanding of how the task actually worked. The authors, therefore, concluded that these crows have beyond simple associative learning that are capable of processing causal information about novel tool types.

Explore further: New bird species confirmed 15 years after first observation

More information: Taylor AH, Elliffe DM, Hunt GR, Emery NJ, Clayton NS, et al. (2011) New Caledonian Crows Learn the Functional Properties of Novel Tool Types. PLoS ONE 6(12): e26887. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026887

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wild crows reveal tool skills

Jan 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study using motion sensitive video cameras has revealed how New Caledonian crows use tools in the wild, Oxford University scientists report.

Crows can use 'up to three tools'

Aug 05, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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 ...

Crows demonstrate their cleverness with tools (w/ Video)

Apr 22, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- New Zealand scientists studying New Caledonian crows have found they can use three different tools in succession to gain a food treat. The crows are known to solve problems and fashion and ...

Crows are capable of distinguishing symbols, study finds

Oct 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study published in Animal Behavior shows that crows are capable of recognizing symbols designed to represent different quantities and is one of many different studies currently lookin ...

Recommended for you

Scanning robot helps put insect collection online

7 hours ago

A robot capable of scanning a tray of insect specimens in a few minutes will help make the virtual images and tagging information available to the public online, according to South Dakota State University ...

New mushroom discovered on campus is the first since 1985

7 hours ago

Two researchers who recently named the first new species of mushroom from the UC Berkeley campus in more than 30 years are emphasizing the need for continued green and open space on campus, as well as a full-fledged ...

Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

Nov 21, 2014

The exclusive club of explorers who have discovered a rare new species of life isn't restricted to globetrotters traveling to remote locations like the Amazon rainforests, Madagascar or the woodlands of the ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Cave_Man
3 / 5 (2) Dec 14, 2011
Crows are the real overlords, just don't piss them off cuz they outnumber us 10 to 1 probably.
Newbeak
not rated yet Dec 14, 2011
Good thing they don't have hands to build things,or they could be flying around with .22 cal belly mounted guns..Shit,it just occurred to me they wouldn't need hands to steal darts from someone's dart board,and...I better not go on,in case the black buggers can read!
Nanobanano
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2011
Yall, come on.

Birds have to be prety creative in the wild. They build nests, which shows forward planning:

The ability to recognize a need in advance.

The ability to solve problems to provide for that need in advance.

Nobody ever animals were stupid, especially not birds.

In the Bible it is said they fed one of the prophets.

I've have a relative who saw crows carry a packet of Catsup, because they knew it was food.

They even know how to steal my cat's food and not get caught!
Newbeak
5 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2011
Yall, come on.

Don't get me wrong:for an animal with a walnut sized brain,they are incredibly intelligent.I like the story about crows learning to drop nuts in traffic at light controlled intersections,and when a car runs over the nut and cracks it,they swoop down to claim their prize,AFTER the lights change to red!
mayan
1 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2011
They travel to other worlds, like paathal, heaven during their sleep, its the soul, if it enters a house then the family should perform rituals.....

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.