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Crows Make Tools from Different Components

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  • Crows Make Tools from Different Components

    By Alton Parrish (Reporter)

    An international team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and the University of Oxford have revealed that New Caledonian crows are able to create tools by combining two or more otherwise non-functional elements, an ability so far observed only in humans and great apes.

    The new study shows that these birds can create long-reaching tools out of short combinable parts — an astonishing mental feat. Assemblage of different components into novel functional and maneuverable tools has, until now, only been observed in apes, and anthropologists regard early human compound tool manufacture as a significant step in brain evolution. Children take several years before creating novel tools, probably because it requires anticipating properties of yet unseen objects. Such anticipation, or planning, is usually interpreted as involving creative mental modeling and executive functions.

    New Caledonian crow with a stick tool.

    Click image for larger version

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