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Science

Crows Complete Basic Aesop's Fable Task 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-so-science dept.
jones_supa writes: "New Caledonian crows — already known to be smart — may also understand how to displace water to receive a reward, with the causal understanding level of a 5-7 year-old child, according to results published in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Sarah Jelbert from University of Auckland and colleagues. As demonstrated in the included video, 'Scientists used the Aesop's fable riddle — in which subjects drop stones into water to raise the water level and obtain an out-of reach-reward — to assess New Caledonian crows' causal understanding of water displacement. ... Crows completed 4 of 6 water displacement tasks, including preferentially dropping stones into a water-filled tube instead of a sand-filled tube, dropping sinking objects rather than floating objects, using solid objects rather than hollow objects, and dropping objects into a tube with a high water level rather than a low one. However, they failed two more challenging tasks, one that required understanding of the width of the tube, and one that required understanding of counterintuitive cues for a U-shaped displacement task.' The authors note that these tasks did not test insightful problem solving, but were directed at the birds' understanding of volume displacement."
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Crows Complete Basic Aesop's Fable Task

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @01:07PM (#46610531)

    This explains why I've always preferred the company of crows, jackdaws and magpies over that of human beings.

  • Experiment yourself (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @01:30PM (#46610631)

    I put out random old food I'd otherwise throw away for the crows (and an occasional opossum that takes what they leave behind). They are interesting to watch. They will take hard dried food like pretzels and old bread and drop them in a puddle or the bird batch to soften them up. They also take food fly away and hide it and come back for more. Another interesting thing is how they interact with a Hawks. Occasionally a hawk will land and investigate the food or the commotion. The crows initially back off but eventually one or two of them will cautiously walk up behind it and pester it and pull at it's tail feathers until he finally gets frustrated and leaves. They do other things that others birds don't.

  • Re:Crow behavior (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SternisheFan (2529412) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @02:33PM (#46610909)
    On a morning when the Nazis had a mass killing of concentration camp victims, Goring remarked on the mass gathering of crows and other birds, amassed along wires and roofs. There were tens of thousands of the birds assembled, but only on the days when many people were to be exterminated, and this unsettled Goring. Perhaps there is more to our avian and animal friends than meets the eye?
  • by dryeo (100693) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @02:50PM (#46611035)

    There are better studies that show crows having understanding. Things like using a short tool to get a medium tool to get the long tool to reach the unreachable. Fashioning the correct tool from a piece of wire. Or in one case studying the situation for close to 2 minutes before flawlessly completing all the steps required to reach the unreachable, without any training.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Let them be. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @06:29AM (#46614079) Journal

    Manhattan Project

    That wasn't a dumbass decision. Sure bits of it were, loke propping apart two bits of a critical mass with a screwdriver, but the project as a whole was not. It basically started the nuclear industry which has saved vast numbers of lives.

    The number of people not killed in coal mining exceeds the number killed as a result of nuclear weapons and accidents. The numbers are quite easy to work out: the generating capacity and deaths per kWh are known well for all power generation techniques worldwide.

    And that's not getting into any of the nuclear side benefits, things like useful isotopes in things like medical tests, fire alarms etc etc.

    And now back to the warlike element. While it would be nice if everyone got along and didn't have weapons, the fact is that if anyone does, everyone does. Bear in mind the Third Reich was working on nuclear weaponary and had unstoppable ballistic missiles.

    Ultimately though, nuclear weapons are mid 1940-s level tech that's well understood. Given that any large nation state can develop it, I'm glad that my allies and country had it first/early.

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"

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