Can Kabadayi, a cognitive zoologist from Lund University, and co-author Mathias Osvath, set up a series of experiments to determine if ravens could deliberately prepare for future events, NPR reports. They were also able to use the tools successfully about 86 percent of the time. The birds even began to store their tokens, like saving money, for future trades.
Similarly, the ravens also proved that they are capable of self-control when researchers presented them with the choice of either an immediate reward or a tool which would allow them to gain an even bigger reward with a little more effort.
The ravens planned for bartering more accurately than apes, the researchers report, and they were on par with them in the tool-using tasks, despite lacking predispositions for tool handling.
They've long been known to be among the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom, but a study published earlier this week in the journal Science suggests that ravens can plan for the future, and plan for events that they have yet to encounter.
A new study showed that ravens may be smarter than we think birds. "Adolescent ravens live in kind of roving bands without a fixed territory where social alliances can change very quickly", he says. In the course of raising the birds for research, the scientists sometimes release young that are raised by ravens. They learned that a researcher would give food treats in exchange for a particular token.
Ravens are complex birds.
"I'm pretty impressed by the levels they showed - the levels of success in all experiments", says Osvath. They had to drop a rock through a tube, and then the treat box opened.
They were allowed to choose one thing from the tray.
Cognitive scientists from Lund University, Sweden, spent hours watching the corvids to determine that they are able to think ahead to future scenarios. Their names are Huginn and Muninn, the Old Norse words for "thought" and "memory". Fascinatingly, the ravens performed better in the bartering tests than orangutans, bonobos and chimps, as shown in other studies.
The birds were even noted to opt out of receiving immediate rewards in the face of later but tastier and greater rewards.
But the latest experiments revealed that ravens can wisely forego an immediate reward in order to get a better one in the future.
Perhaps most importantly, four out of five ravens got these tasks right on the first trial, before they had any chance of learning the particular task by experience or building habits.
Taylor says this is the key control - divorcing the token from food association - that's missing from the study. The fact that the task was not something ravens typically perform eliminates the possibility that the behavior is a result of an instinct or an adaptation. A new study shows that, pound for pound, birds pack more neurons into their small brains than mammals, including primates.
The work is the latest study that proves how advanced raven intelligence is. Also, the ravens have their gestures, and they're used to communicate various items.
Indeed, as evolution has shown time and time again, there are many different ways to reach a similar result.
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