Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Ravens Aren't Birdbrains

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Ravens Aren't Birdbrains

Article excerpt

A study led by researchers at Lund University in Sweden shows that ravens are as clever as chimpanzees, despite having much smaller brains.

"Absolute brain size is not the whole story," says Can Kabadayi, doctoral student in cognitive science.

One aspect of being clever is inhibitory control, and the ability to override animal impulses and choose a more rational behavior. In 2014, researchers at Duke University compared the inhibitory control of 36 different animal species, mainly apes and other primates. The team used the established cylinder test, where food is placed in a transparent tube with openings on both sides. The challenge is for the animal to retrieve the food via the side openings, instead of reaching for it directly. To succeed, the animal has to show constraint.

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The large-scale study concluded that great apes performed the best, and that absolute brain size appeared to be key when it comes to intelligence. However, they didn't conduct the cylinder test on corvid birds. …

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