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Claim: Crows fear death

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From BBC News, reporting on an interesting experiment:

These results show that crows will avoid an area or thing that is deemed dangerous to their own species. In other words, they know what death is and know to fear it.

No. Crows are smart birds and learn quickly to avoid danger.

But they don’t “know what death is” because, as noted earlier, “death,” unlike danger, is an abstraction. Just like “irreversible.”

“It tells us that crows view death, at least in part, as a ‘teachable moment’ to borrow an anthropomorphic phrase. It’s a signal of danger and danger is something to be avoided,” explains Swift.

This work is another example of how crows have evolved to live so successfully with us

And this fear of a potential deadly situation stays with them. Even six weeks later more than a third of 65 pairs of crows continued to respond this way.

Well, they are smarter than pigeons.

See also: Animal rights cashing in on homo Naledi burials:

Humans and our closest ancestors, however, are not the only species to recognize and respond to death in specific ways. “Apes have an understanding that death is irreversible,” says primatologist Frans de Waal of Emory University. When they see a dead group member, “they’re affected by it and they watch over it and sometimes try to revive it, touch it, and groom it.”

Cats often do the same thing. They don’t know that death is irreversible and it is unlikely that chimps do. “Irreversible” is an abstract concept, like the number 23. More.

Note: In a few weeks, I will be starting a series on animal minds.

3 Replies to “Claim: Crows fear death

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    But they don’t “know what death is” because, as noted earlier, “death,” unlike danger, is an abstraction.

    How do you explain the results in the paper then?

  2. 2
    Starbuck says:

    Ha! Paper shmaper, they just make stuff up as they go along, as long as it’s “intuitive”

  3. 3
    EvilSnack says:

    I happen to know from first-hand experience that crows know what a .22 rifle can do.

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