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Crows don't plan intelligence (Science Alert)


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“Crows and parrots have long been known to solve the string pulling problem immediately. What our new research shows is that these performances are due to the birds being able to react in the moment to the effects of their actions, rather than being able to mentally plan out their actions,” says Dr Alex Taylor, lead author on the study.

“Thus string pulling appears to be based on a different type of intelligence than we had thought. Instead of the crows using sophisticated cognitive software to model the world, it appears their neural hardware is sufficiently well connected and/or specialised for them to react to the effect of their actions immediately. This allows them to solve problems that other bird species cannot.”

The work, by Dr Taylor, Brenna Knaebe and Professor Russell Gray, titled “An end to insight? New Caledonian crows can spontaneously solve problems without planning their actions”, has been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences online.

Bird-brained savants.

They're good at thinking on-the-fly.

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