Ravens Are Able To Plan For The Future As Well As Human Children Can

Not only will they know if you've cheated them, they can also plan ahead. Eric Celebrezze/Shutterstock

Josh Davis 13 Jul 2017, 21:09

They were then given a task that involved bartering. Since this behavior does not occur in the wild, it cannot be explained by hardwired disposition. In a similar way to the previous experiment, the ravens were tasked with finding and exchanging tokens for food at a later date. In this experiment, the birds were actually found to plan for the bartering more accurately than apes in similar tests.

Finally, the birds were given the option to choose a tool to open the puzzle (which contained a high value reward), a tool that did not work, and a low value but immediate food reward, and were allowed to only take one. The ravens chose the tool for the puzzle, even if it meant delaying their reward, again putting them on par with apes in terms of planning for future events.

“The broadest significance of this study is about independent evolution of complex cognition,” explained co-author Can Kabadayi to IFLScience in an email. “Since corvids and great apes are vastly separated phylogenetically, they must have [evolved] their flexible planning skills independently.”

“Put simply, it is mind baffling that a similar set of complex skills can evolve in vastly distant lineages,” Kabadayi continued.

The similarities in the cognitive abilities of both apes and corvids opens up a whole new set of questions as to how and why such complex cognition evolved in two completely different groups of animals, and what it is that has driven it in both sets. It also raises the question of whether or not there is a similar underlying mechanism in the brains of apes and corvids, which is particularly interesting due to the superficial differences in their organs.

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