Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Caledonian Crows Find Two Tools Better Than One

Date:
August 20, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Researchers have found that New Caledonian crows -- which are known to make complex food-getting tools in the wild -- can also spontaneously use one tool on another to get a snack. The birds' tool-use skills rival those seen among great apes, according to the researchers. Moreover, it appears that the birds may have solved the problem that confronted them by using analogical reasoning rather than simple trial and error.

A crow using a short tool to extract a tool long enough to reach a piece of meat.
Credit: Copyright Alex Taylor

Researchers have found that New Caledonian crows--which are known to make complex food-getting tools in the wild--can also spontaneously use one tool on another to get a snack.

Related Articles


The birds' tool-use skills rival those seen among great apes, according to the researchers. Moreover, it appears that the birds may have solved the problem that confronted them by using analogical reasoning rather than simple trial and error. Analogical reasoning requires the ability to see a novel situation as being essentially the same as a previous situation, the researchers explained.

"Evidence suggests that, from the earliest human stone tools, analogical reasoning has been at the core of human innovation," said Russell Gray of the University of Auckland. "This hallmark of human intelligence may also be at work in both the great apes and New Caledonian crows and may explain why--out of all the crow species in the world--only these crows routinely make and use tools."

In the study, the researchers presented crows with some meat in a hole and a stick that left the meat out of reach. The birds needed to get a long stick out of a "toolbox" in order to get the meat from the hole. However, the long stick was also out of reach. "The creative thing the crows did was to use the short stick to get the long tool out of the box so that they could then use the long stick to get the meat," said Alex Taylor, also of the University of Auckland.

In a second experiment, the researchers reversed the positions of the two sticks so that the small stick was inside the toolbox and the long stick was handy. The crows then briefly probed the box containing the short stick with the long stick before correcting their error by taking the stick directly to the hole.

"It was surprising to find that these 'bird-brained' creatures performed at the same levels as the best performances by great apes on such a difficult problem," Gray said. "Six out of seven birds tried to get the long stick with the short stick at their first attempt at solving the problem. To do this, they had to inhibit their normal response of trying to get the food directly with the short stick and realize that they could use the short stick to get the long stick."

The researchers report their findings online August 16 in Current Biology, a publication of Cell Press.

The researchers include Alex H. Taylor, Gavin R. Hunt, Jennifer C. Holzhaider, and Russell D. Gray of University of Auckland. This work was supported by a Commonwealth Doctoral Scholarship (to A.H.T.) and a grant from the New Zealand Marsden Fund (to G.R.H. and R.D.G.).

Taylor et al.: "Spontaneous Metatool Use by New Caledonian Crows." Publishing in Current Biology 17, 1--4, September 4, 2007. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2007.07.057.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "New Caledonian Crows Find Two Tools Better Than One." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070816121111.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, August 20). New Caledonian Crows Find Two Tools Better Than One. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070816121111.htm
Cell Press. "New Caledonian Crows Find Two Tools Better Than One." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070816121111.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins