Ravens plan for the Future

Neue Studie zu den Raven Overlords: Man hat festgestellt, dass Raben nicht nur einfache Maschinen bedienen können, sondern auch alternative Bedienungen erfinden (aka Hacking übrigens), anderen Raben diese alternativen Bedienungen beibringen und die Bedienungs-Optionen der Maschine in die Zukunft projizieren und damit planen können. Dabei stellen sie sich mindestens genauso geschickt an, wie Affen und kleine Kinder. (Und während des Experiments mussten sie einen der Raben entfernen, weil er zu schlau war und anderen Raben beibrachte, die Maschine zu manipulieren.)

Paper: Ravens parallel great apes in flexible planning for tool-use and bartering (Image via Ravenmaster HM Tower of London)

The ability to flexibly plan for events outside of the current sensory scope is at the core of being human and is crucial to our everyday lives and society. Studies on apes have shaped a belief that this ability evolved within the hominid lineage. Corvids, however, have shown evidence of planning their food hoarding, although this has been suggested to reflect a specific caching adaptation rather than domain-general planning. Here, we show that ravens plan for events unrelated to caching—tool-use and bartering—with delays of up to 17 hours, exert self-control, and consider temporal distance to future events. Their performance parallels that seen in apes and suggests that planning evolved independently in corvids, which opens new avenues for the study of cognitive evolution.

Motherboard: Ravens Are So Smart, One Hacked This Researcher's Experiment

In this study, researchers from Lund University in Sweden trained ravens to use a simple machine where they dropped a rock in a tube to earn a food reward. Later, they were put in a room with the puzzle box (but no rock), which was then removed. An hour later, the birds were presented with a row of objects: the rock, and several distractions. Nearly all of them chose the rock, and 86 percent managed to successfully use it to open the machine when it was presented to them 15 minutes later.

In another experiment, 78 percent of ravens were able to successfully barter with a human and exchange goods—trading a bottlecap for a reward—a higher success rate than what's been seen in similar experiments done with apes.

Co-author Can Kabadayi […] described to me how one experiment took an eerie turn: One raven in the experiment figured out how to work their rock/box contraption first, then began teaching the method to other ravens, and finally invented its own way of doing it. Instead of dropping a rock to release a treat, the future Ruler of the Raven Kingdom constructed a layer of twigs in the tube, and pushed another stick down through the layer to force it open. The bird had to be removed from the experiment before it could teach any other birds how to do it.