Crows cleverer than first thought

Oct 2013
4,911
Planet Nine, Oregon
#31
Chimps have apparently understood neologisms, the pairing of two known words which could become portmanteaus, eventually. The ability to mentally combine meanings or characteristics to create novel ideas and meanings is essential for true intelligence.
 
Jun 2012
6,955
Malaysia
#32
I hv learned not to mess about with a crow again. Ever. Once I did with a couple, years ago, I kind of just hassled them, pretended to chase them away, becos they were making a ruckus up the trees around the bus stop. And for months afterward, two wud come swooping over me & fly away, every time I passed. I think it was the same two which I had disturbed.
 

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
2,182
Australia
#34
I'm becoming more and more convinced that they use language, and I mean something approaching a real language, not just "I'm here", "Where are you", "Danger!", "Here's food", "Keep away" type calls. You'll know what I mean, but I'll put this short video here to illustrate for all the other types of sounds they make beside raucous cawing. None of the sounds this raven make could really come into the category of the types of call I mentioned, and none of them are mimicry of sounds made by other birds, animals or manmade objects, they are just some of the 84 or so sounds that they make. Not here,but when perched together they make a whole load of other softer sounds to each other, and it's probably these sounds that convey information such as, "Watch out for that guy with the red hair as he's a total ..."

Yes. I have a little whip bird that has made my surrounds home, previously I only knew the male and female whip type calls and responses, but he also does a whole range of other stuff I never knew a whip bird did . The ravens here can slow their voice down so it is virtually a series of drawn out clicks , modulated by pitch up and down .
 

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
2,182
Australia
#35
Something I noticed for a couple of years, but not anymore. I leave here on a trip and half way down my local road, two or sometimes three or one raven flying in front f the car ..... a raven escort ?

Then I get hundreds of km away to another town and again two ravens flying up in front of the car ????? cant be the same two - weird .

But then again, once on my motor bike I had a flying triangular 3 pelican escort for about 10 km .... even through a shopping center . What with that ! ?

Another time when I post man, I had to put a letter in a letter box set into a garden hedge, there was a raven on the hedge, no way he was going to let me put that ketter in there ! Kept juming in the way, squarking, pecking towards me if I got the letter near the box, so I went and slipped it under the gate.
 
Oct 2013
4,911
Planet Nine, Oregon
#36
Yes. I have a little whip bird that has made my surrounds home, previously I only knew the male and female whip type calls and responses, but he also does a whole range of other stuff I never knew a whip bird did . The ravens here can slow their voice down so it is virtually a series of drawn out clicks , modulated by pitch up and down .
Hopefully the crows and other birds will take out military control centers first, before eradicating our destructive, wasteful, yet tasty.. Species. Long flap our crow overlords!
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,963
Where Pica hudsonia thrives
#37
What I like from the second link on spatial intelligence is that it is defined as a "human computational capacity". I think a lot of what we think we know about the brain, any brain, needs re-thinking. We have, naturally, measured every other animal against ourselves, or at least mammals against reptiles, including birds, and decided our evolutionary solution is the only one that grants any form of higher function. Yet, it is now blindingly obvious that in the last 300 million years between us and a common ancestor with dinosaurs, we have not left them behind, but convergent evolution has taken place and, removing us from the scale, on balance the dinosaurs have come up with a solution for intelligence that may be better than the mammalian. It's this business of Ravens having the same, or a slightly greater EQ than chimps, yet having 80 times greater density of neurons than us. Pigeons, with "only" six times our density of neurons, can multitask and process information 50% faster than us.
Rock doves (the most common pigeons) are amazingly adaptable and cosmopolitan.
Why mammalian eyes are usually worse than avian eyes, especially for colour distinction and visual acuity?
 
Mar 2017
781
Colorado
#38
It's a little off topic, but it goes along with "not understanding bird brains."

In 1967, a study with Indigo Buntings was done. They're a migratory species that navigate by the the stars. The current understanding at that time was that they learn North/South orientation by watching stars rotate. This article talks about other navigation schemes as well. These birds were raised with only planetarium references to use.

The Basics: How Birds Navigate When They Migrate
"There is some indication that birds use multiple compass methods and calibrate them against each other. Some species use one type of compass as the primary navigational aid while others rely on a different primary system. The complexity of migration and the skill with which it is accomplished is one of the many marvels that make birds so interesting to study. "

I've seen multiple references to use of homing pigeons in Egypt & Persia around 3000 BCE, but haven't found a good source yet.
 
Mar 2017
781
Colorado
#39
Rock doves (the most common pigeons) are amazingly adaptable and cosmopolitan.
Why mammalian eyes are usually worse than avian eyes, especially for colour distinction and visual acuity?
Natural selection at work here - my recollection is that acuity is a function of the structure of the lense, the shape of the eyeball itself, and density of cells on the retina:
The raptors need incredible acuity to detect tiny prey at a distance.

Mammals don't NEED this. What herbivores need is eyes that give them peripheral vision: something like 350 degrees. There's only a tiny blind spot at the back end (which is why you should never approach a horse silently from the rear ... unless you don't mind your spleen being ruptured by a kick).

Predators rely heavily on scent and only need to see relatively big things at a close distance (foxes DON'T need to see some prey ... they HEAR rodents in tunnels under the ground and pounce THROUGH the ground). Roaming predators like cats & canids only need to see silhouettes at a distance, but need decent acuity to pick out sick/damaged/old prey.

It's almost a wonder apes see as well as they do, as a species largely developed as arboreal. I don't think there's a marked difference between man-the-hunter and gorillas-the-vegetarians as far as sight.


Color is a different thing entirely. There's only so much room for cells on the retina. Canids largely gave up the cones to make room for more rods, enabling them to hunt in low light situations. Vegetarians need some cones to detect unripe/ripe/rotten fruit. It gets more complicated when sexual display enters into it. Color (cones) needs more light to be received. Owls pulled the same trick (no cones, more rods) and they have very sharp hearing ... they're almost "ambush" predators (stay still, waiting for something to move/rustle). I don't know if you'd consider arthropod eyes "better" but they have an amazing range of colors beyond what we & birds can perceive ... their compound eyes are super honed to detect tiny movements ... I'll bet acuity is quite limited (a high flying bee only needs to see a splotch of the right color).


I just found this out. That hairbrush thing inside the eyeball (pecten oculi) is unique to birds and reptiles. In mammals, the retina is nourished by tiny blood vessels all over the place ... which partly obscure vision. In birds, the pecten accomplishes some of this nourishment, reduces the number of blood vessels, and actually makes more retina surface available for sensory cells. That little dent called the fovea has the sharpest focus. I'll bet if you had it drawn to scale and drew the focus lines from the edge of the lense through the focal point, it would just skirt the top of the pecten.

Another way to answer this: Birds see better because they have different kinds of eyes. (Oh dear! Did I just tread on that Intelligent Design no-evolution-to-eye premise?)
 
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Mar 2017
781
Colorado
#40
Chimps have apparently understood neologisms, the pairing of two known words which could become portmanteaus, eventually. The ability to mentally combine meanings or characteristics to create novel ideas and meanings is essential for true intelligence.
Reading some of Koko the gorilla's transcripts, I think any question of "intelligence" is resolved. It does need a little "push" ... she could talk with Michael (another signing gorilla) but just couldn't persuade other gorillas to learn sign language. My observation is that the findings of self awareness and true intelligence revealed in Koko don't nearly receive the attention they should get. Perhaps this is because it so unsettling ... considering how animals as a whole are treated. I don't discount fears of religious persecution, as well. I once looked at putting together a traveling museum exhibit, and was flat-out told that if it was to travel in the southern United States, the word "evolution" present in any description would completely block bookings.

It's not just gorillas. Almost all animals use vocalizations (I've argued with pikas & marmots), but I believe there's some acknowledgement of true language in more than few species. Does and fawns routinely walk through my yard: they "converse" *ALL* the time ... is it language? I'm guessing "not" ... just a constant verbal parent/child link. However, I don't doubt that many species do use conversational language. Abstract thought? You need to test for that ... like they did with Koko.
 
Likes: Todd Feinman