Scientists have discovered another amazing skill of crows

(ORDO NEWS) — People are accustomed to consider themselves the smartest and most capable. It’s hard to argue with that, but many animals have skills that we often attribute to our species alone.

The latest study has shown that black crows are a lot smarter than we thought. This is despite the fact that scientists have long known about the high cognitive abilities of these birds.

As it turned out, crows are able to generate recursive sequences. Until now, this skill was considered unique to humans.

What can a crow do?

Scientists have discovered another amazing skill of crows 2

“ Recursion , the ability to recognize and connect nested linguistic or logical structures, has long been considered the basis of human speech and one of the unique abilities of people.

Our experiments show that black crows are able to cope with this task at a very high level – they are superior to macaques and perform on a par with small children, ” says Diana Liao from the University of Tübingen, Germany.

Sounds complicated, how does it work in practice? In fact, the ability to understand recursion makes crows aware of the nature of connections in chains nested in each other (logical structures or events), as well as connecting objects and subjects participating in them with each other.

Recursion allows a person to see patterns in complex information. It may seem to you that we are now talking about mathematics or programming, but in fact we use it every day in the language.

For example: the basic sentence “the cat ate the mouse” can be extended by recursion. “Vanya guessed that the cat ate the mouse”, further: “Katya knows that Vanya guessed that the cat ate the mouse” and so on.

What is the crow thinking

Scientists have discovered another amazing skill of crows 3

Once you have a language system, it’s very easy to understand what recursion is. But how to establish whether the bird understands it?

So scientists developed a recursion test that crows could understand. It was a set of cards with brackets in various shapes.

The birds had to understand the connection between them and arrange them in a certain order, in which different sets of brackets were nested within each other.

Observations showed that the birds quickly caught logical connections and easily inserted cards into each other in the desired sequence.

Curiously, the crows were even able to solve complex problems with a large number of parentheses nested in each other, which were not similar to the test tasks that the birds learned on.

Scientists summarize that the ability of crows to understand recursion is far superior to primates! Birds are at about the same level as 3-4 year olds. This only proves the unusually high level of intelligence of corvids.


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