Crows Continue to Be Terrifyingly Intelligent

Drake Baer in New York Magazine:

ScreenHunter_2136 Aug. 03 06.30About 2,000 miles east of Australia is collection of islands called New Caledonia. The French territory is astonishingly beautiful, but the most astonishing thing about it has got to be the crows. With their beguiling smarts, New Caledonian crows are the valedictorians of the avian world (which is saying a lot, since birds’ have neuron counts on par with apes). New Caledonians can solve certain logic puzzles as well as 7-year-olds do,construct their own tools, and they’ve sussed out that if you drop a stone into a glass of water, it will rise.

Now those New Caledonians have been observed doing yet another holy crap, that’s awesome kind of thing. As reported in New Scientist, the crows have now been seen using tools to carry another object, like slipping a wooden stick into a metal nut. It’s reportedly the first time that a nonhuman animal has been seen inserting one object into another to transport it somewhere. “One subject used a stick to transport an object that was too large to be handled by beak, which suggests the tool facilitated object control,” writes lead author and Lund University cognitive scientist Ivo F. Jacobs and his colleagues. “The function in the other cases is unclear but seems to be an expression of play or exploration.”

More here.