German Scientists: Four-Month Old Ravens As Smart as Chimps
A German study gives new meaning to the term "bird brain," showing that ravens are as smart as some of our closest ancestors, reports DPA.
Scientists from the University of Osnabrück in Germany and the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology compared the physical and social cognitive skills of ravens with those of chimpanzees and orangutans.
The researchers found that ravens developed full-fledged cognitive skills in performing various tasks at the age of four months, similar to those of adult monkeys.
The study was published in the Scientific Reports journal.
The findings are based on an experimental test originally developed for primates and adapted for use with birds.
It involves hiding treats under a cup turned upside-down and then changing its position next to other cups to see if the raven can find where the food is - similar to playing thimblerig. The smart feathered then uses his beak to point to the right cup.
"By the age of four months, baby ravens are relatively independent and are starting to show interest in associations," said Simone Pica, head of research at the University of Osnabrück University's Institute for Cognitive Science.
The performance of eight ravens aged 4, 8, 12 and 16 months was assessed during the study using different tasks, such as spatial memory testing or social behavior such as communication.
The birds have mastered tests to understand quantities, causality, social learning and communication, as well as chimpanzees or orangutans, the scientists found. The next task is to develop tests that identify skills specific to their species.
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