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Study: Ravens, crows as smart as chimps

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“About your car keys … look up, way, way up. See that tree? See that nest … see ME …?/Helena Osvath

From ScienceDaily:

A new study suggests that ravens can be as clever as chimpanzees, despite having much smaller brains, indicating that rather than the size of the brain, the neuronal density and the structure of the birds’ brains play an important role in terms of their intelligence.

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.

(For some reason, humans were not tested for the ability to get food out of the end of a tube instead of striking at the middle… )

Can Kabadayi, together with researchers from the University of Oxford, UK and the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, therefore had ravens, jackdaws and New Caledonian crows perform the same cylinder test to better understand their inhibitory control.

“There is still so much we need to understand and learn about the relationship between intelligence and brain size, as well as the structure of a bird’s brain, but this study clearly shows that bird brains are not simply birdbrains after all!” More. Paper. (public access) – Can Kabadayi, Lucy A. Taylor, Auguste M. P. von Bayern, Mathias Osvath. Ravens, New Caledonian crows and jackdaws parallel great apes in motor self-regulation despite smaller brains. Royal Society Open Science, 2016; 3 (4): 160104 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160104

True, brain size doesn’t matter nearly as much as organization. But we already knew that. And we already knew that some birds are quite smart. But only some birds.

A much more significant problem for conventional explanation in biology is that closeness to humans in terms of common descent doesn’t matter nearly as much for intelligence as it should. And being a bird does not, in itself, confer smartness either. We do not know the source of intelligence as yet, but common descent is not turning out to be much of a help. That is not a matter we expect many workers in the field to be anxious to discuss. The linked account certainly doesn’t raise it.

We do not know the source of intelligence because we do not know the source of information.

One knows a discipline is in trouble when obvious inferences can’t really be discussed.

See also: Are apes entering the Stone Age?


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3 Replies to “Study: Ravens, crows as smart as chimps

  1. 1
    PaV says:

    That’s right, Denyse: common descent as an explanation of intelligence takes a hit here, only underlining the “intelligence ‘gap'” that the evo types have to explain.

  2. 2
    tjguy says:

    Aw, come on guys!

    Just another example here of our good friend, CONVERGENCE.

    Nothing to get all upset about. You make mountains out of all the mole hills. Take a pill and chill.


    Could it be that it is actually the Materialists who try and make molehills out of all the mountains?

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    If brain size is irrelevant then there goes the neighborhood for loads of evo conclusions. THEY NEED BRAIN SIZE
    Bible believing Christians already know brain size is irrelevant to holding a immaterial soul. Possibly our brain is bigger for memory operations but the girls brains are smaller and so thats unlikely I think.
    Brain size was never proven to be relevant. It was just another presumption from the 1800’s and like everything else just plain wrong and unthoughtful.

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