Ravens turned out to be almost as smart as monkeys

Zoologists have adapted the popular method for measuring monkeys’ intelligence to measure the intelligence of ravens.

Bird watcher Simone Pika of the University of Osnabrück in Germany and her colleagues experimented with eight crows at the age of four, eight, 12, and 16 months: they were all forced to take a test. The authors of the work note that all the crows hatched and were raised in captivity.

Scientists have checked whether birds have:

  • spatial memory skills
  • understanding the persistence of the object (understanding that the object still exists, even if it is not in sight)
  • understanding relative numbers
  • folding skills
  • ability to communicate and learn skills

The authors adapted the popular primate intelligence test, PCTB, to work with birds to find out. It includes fifteen simple puzzles and tasks that evaluate them according to the points described above. Scientists have adapted some of these tests, considering that birds do not have hands, and their vision works in a completely different way from monkeys.

These experiments showed that the intellectual abilities of birds developed very quickly. By about the fourth month, the ravens were not inferior in adult birds’ development: they successfully solved the same set of problems as adult crows. Sometimes crows were even superior to adults in solving spatial reasoning problems and the ability to put themselves in the shoes of others.

As a result, it turned out that crows are not inferior to chimpanzees, but they are worse at performing tasks on spatial thinking.

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