Convergent evolution News

Convergent evolution: Crows can play with kids’ toys, like primates

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From the University of Vienna:

To investigate the play behavior of parrots and crows researchers confronted groups of three crow species as well as a total of nine parrot species with an identical set of wooden toddler toys of different shape and colour categories as well as with a ‘playground’ offering various tubes and holes for insertions and poles for stacking rings. Whereas animals of most species interacted with the toys, complex object-object combinations were largely limited to a subset of the species. The frequency of playfully combining two free toys was highest in New Caledonian crows within crows and in Goffin cockatoos, Black Palm cockatoos and Kea within parrots. Goffins and New Caledonian crows even combined up to three toys. “New Caledonian crows are innate tool users and also the only crow known to regularly use and manufacture different types of foraging tools in the wild”, says Alice Auersperg from the University of Vienna who organized the study: “The Black Palm cockatoos are also habitual tool users, with the males using wooden logs as drum sticks to attack their females to potential breeding sites and to deter competitors. The Goffin cockatoo as well as the kea, although not innate tool users, have both repeatedly demonstrated the capacity for innovative and flexible tool use as well as high-level performances in problem solving tasks involving object manipulations in captivity”.

Again, only the aforementioned species also combined their toys with the tubes and poles of the playground at high rates. “Inserting behaviors occurred most frequently in New Caldonian crows, followed by Palm cockatoos and Goffin cockatoos, again, consistently with their tool use capacities”, says Auguste von Bayern from the University of Oxford. Only parrots stacked rings onto poles and tubes, the Goffin cockatoos notably more often than other species. “Fitting a frame over a fixed shape is likely to occur less frequently in natural situations than fitting a shape into a fixed frame and it may require a higher level of motor control”, adds von Bayern. The cockatoos even stacked the rings onto, or pulled them over, free stick-shaped objects, which is technically more challenging than if either frame or shape are fixed terms of beak foot coordination.

“Our findings parallel previous findings in primates”, says Alice Auersperg: “This further implies that some abilities substrates in large brained birds and primates may have evolved convergently”.

Alice Auersperg, Jayden van Horik, Thomas Bugnyar, Alex Kacelnik, Nathan Emery, Auguste von Bayern: “Combinatory actions during object play in parrots and corvids”. In: Journal of Comparative Psychology). December 2014.

Remember this when you hear people claiming that primate apes are close kin to humans because they are smarter than other animals. There are good reasons to believe that apes are closer kin to humans but being automatically smarter than all other animals is clearly not one of them.

That fact has a bearing on causes to give apes “human rights.” If the claims are made on the basis of intelligence, should smart crows not also have human rights?

See also: Matching Darwin’s “Tree of Life,” the “Tree of Intelligence” comes crashing down

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2 Replies to “Convergent evolution: Crows can play with kids’ toys, like primates

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    ‘Convergent evolution’ (homology in unexpected places) is found to be much more widespread than originally thought.,, Far more often, and far more problematically, than would be expected under the neo-Darwinian framework.

    “Despite its complexity, C4 photosynthesis is one of the best examples of ‘convergent evolution’, having evolved more than 50 times in at least 18 plant families (Sage 2004; Conway Morris 2006).”

    “The reason evolutionary biologists believe in “40 known independent eye evolutions” isn’t because they’ve reconstructed those evolutionary pathways, but because eyes don’t assume a treelike pattern on the famous Darwinian “tree of life.” Darwinists are accordingly forced, again and again, to invoke convergent “independent” evolution of eyes to explain why eyes are distributed in such a non-tree-like fashion.
    This is hardly evidence against ID. In fact the appearance of eyes within widely disparate groups speaks eloquently of common design. Eyes are a problem, all right — for Darwinism.”

    In fact, Simon Conway Morris has a website documenting hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of ‘convergence’:

    Map Of Life – Simon Conway Morris

    Simon Conway Morris: “Fossil evidence demands a radical rewriting of evolution.” – March 2012
    Excerpt: “The idea is this: that convergence – the tendency of very different organisms to evolve similar solutions to biological problems – is not just part of evolution, but a driving force. To say this is an unconventional view would be something of an understatement.”

    Convergent sequence evolution between echolocating bats and dolphins – Liu et al (2010)
    Excerpt: We previously reported that the Prestin gene has undergone sequence convergence among unrelated lineages of echolocating bat [3]. Here we report that this gene has also undergone convergent amino acid substitutions in echolocating dolphins,

    Convergent evolution seen in hundreds of genes – Erika Check Hayden – 04 September 2013
    Excerpt: “These results imply that convergent molecular evolution is much more widespread than previously recognized,” says molecular phylogeneticist Frédéric Delsuc at the The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the University of Montpellier in France, who was not involved in the study. What is more, he adds, the genes involved are not just the few, obvious ones known to be directly involved in a trait but a broader array of genes that are involved in the same regulatory networks.

    supplemental note:

    Bats hunting their prey – video

    Sperm Whale Vs Giant Squid – animated video

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    Oh brother. The birds again.
    Its not that certain abilities evolved. Why do they say that?
    The abilities in anyone is part of a general ability.
    The only thing going on is memory.
    These birds simply have a memory for using things to some end.
    They must use their mouths to use tools. Other creatures have no such need.
    birds are bird brains. Yet possibly show that all a creature needs is a memory.
    its the humans who need more thought. Especially in Vienna.

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