Intelligence in animals is one of the topics that interests me the most, because of the diversity and diversity of its types. Of course, the general view of intelligence is a very narrow and limited view of things from a human perspective. The axis of intelligence must be viewed on the basis that it is an evolutionary means that contributes to the survival of the organism, and that is why we find multiple types of intelligence based on the survival needs of each organism, and these types are not limited to what humans can do.
In this article, I will focus on the New Caledonian crows in terms of intelligence and some characteristics that distinguish it from the rest of the birds. The Caledonian crow belongs to the family Corvidae, It is dark black in color and is distinguished by its recognizable voice.
About 300 million years ago, the tree of life branched between humans and crows, as evolution took a course that made some creatures of earth-moving mammals, and chimpanzees, humans and bonobos emerged from them. The other branch that took the course of evolution is the families of birds, to which the crow belongs today. So, man and crow separated about 300 million years ago, but some of the characteristics of man have evolved in isolation in the crow as well.
This means that evolution produced similar characteristics between two very distant branches in time. The crow is one of the birds that can distinguish faces and remember them for many years and can communicate with each other, allowing them the ability to transfer information cumulatively through generations. She is also able to make and use tools. The crow is also able to solve some complex mental dilemmas that depend on several interrelated steps, and it is like a human on the issue of marriage, as the spouses stay together for life.
Here are some interesting characteristics about this unique bird.
Let ‘s start searching :
Facial recognition is a very important characteristic of a person, as it allows him to identify enemies from friends, distinguish relatives from strangers, and enables him to read the intentions of people who interact with them. One of the most important characteristics of social organisms is communication, and one of the most important characteristics of communication is the recognition of faces to identify the party with whom one is communicating.
But what if this characteristic is not limited to the sons of your own kind and is extended to distinguish the faces of other creatures? The crow is one of the birds capable of distinguishing human faces and dealing with the owner of the face based on his practice
For example, if a person attacked a crow, the crows in the place will memorize the face of this person, remember him, and treat him with hostility every time he met. Not only does she remember him, but she also teaches her children to fear this person and warn of him when she sees him.
Mr. John Marzluff of the University of Washington has done an in-depth study of crows and their ability to recognize faces. The experiment was as follows: John and other researchers wore different masks after identifying five different nests in Seattle. Only one of the masked researchers stole eggs from the five nests
Then the team connected a GPS device and a tracker to monitor the movement of the crows residing in these nests. Of course, the crows saw the person who stole the eggs and linked his face to the theft. The aim of the experiment is to follow the reaction of the crows when meeting the person in the mask and then to interview their young children in the nest after several years to see if their parents taught them to fear this masked person or not.. I will come back to this experience later.
Communication with the crow :
The crow has more than 250 types of screeching each with a different specific message. For example, he has a screech to warn of the presence of a cat, a slightly different squawk for the presence of a human, and another one to warn of the presence of an eagle or a bird of prey. These squawks are of two types, some of them are general, which we usually hear as “wwaa waa waa,” and some are specific, which is similar to the sound of a pigeon.
The crow uses the second voice to communicate within the group and can transmit many information through its means of communication. This means that he is able to transmit information between generations and this is one of the first signs of the development of culture and tools.
As for the use of tools, the crow is able to devise practical solutions to solve his problems and then use these solutions. For example, it is known to us that chimpanzees use some stones as tools to break some hard foods such as nuts and walnuts, or twigs to catch ants and the like, but the chimpanzee is not able to devise solutions that are not in front of him to solve his problems. The crow is not only able to use tools, but is also able to manufacture them to suit his needs. Of course, I am talking about tools made of tree sticks and other things, not heavy industries…
The crow’s brain is completely different from the structure of the human brain, as, as I mentioned earlier, it separated from the evolution of humans 300 million years ago, but it evolved in a way that allows crows to distinguish faces, communicate and complex thinking.
There are some experiments that embody how smart the crow is, and I mention them :
The researchers placed a piece of meat inside a cage. The piece can only be accessed by using a wooden return long enough to pull the piece of meat out of the cage. There is a string attached to a short piece of wood (not enough to bring the piece of meat from inside the cage).
There is also a sufficiently long wooden piece, but it is inside another wooden cage that the crow can only bring by using the wooden piece tied with a thread. So there are three steps a crow has to take in order to get food.
First, loosen the short plank from the string
. Second, bring the longer wooden piece from inside the cage, using the short plank.
Third, use the long wooden piece to bring the piece of meat.
The crow was able to overcome this experience easily and from the first attempt. There are also more complex experiments that the crow can easily overcome. The crow, for example, is able to use a mirror and understand the principle of light reflection, as it is able to find food by deducing its location from the reflection of the mirror. You can search on YouTube for more experiments…
The US government allocates a special budget to study the intelligence of the crow, as its ability to communicate and distinguish faces from among thousands of faces is an ability that may have important benefits from the military and economic aspects. Also, NASA is working on deducing methods for communicating with the crow, as communicating with non-terrestrial beings will be similar to communicating with the crow, as it has a different intelligence from that of mammals.
At death :
When a crow dies over a field, the crows change their flight path and avoid flying over that field for a long time. Also, after the death of a crow, all the flocks stand for several seconds in complete silence, and then all circle without any sound, as if it were a funeral ritual for the dead crow.
There is also a cooperative relationship between crows and bears in nature. Every year, the bear wakes up from its hibernation and begins a journey in search of food and catching salmon. The crow plays the role of reconnaissance from the air. As soon as it finds a group of fish, it starts issuing specific squawks, distinguished by the bears saying, “Salmon is found in this area.” “The bear hunts salmon and eats what it eats and then leaves a good amount that the crow can eat. This partnership between the two is the result of the cleverness of the crow, who was able to exploit the bear to obtain an easy food resource. I have a personal hypothesis that humans consider the sound of the crow an ominous omen, which is that the crow was doing reconnaissance work that gathered the ancestors of humans previously and shrieked in order for predators to attack them in order for him to devour the remains (just as the example of the bear) and that is why humans consider the sound of the crow as an ominous sound… (just a personal hypothesis )
Let’s go back to the experience I mentioned at the beginning of the article.
Of course, after stealing eggs from crows’ nests, the person who stole the eggs became unwelcome and the crows started issuing alert and warning screeching whenever they spotted this person in the vicinity…. Five years later, crows equipped with GPS were tracked down and found. It is worth noting that these are the sons of crows who were robbed. It means that they do not remember the incident because they were young when the theft occurred.
Already one of the five crows has been located (the rest are dead).
After the researcher walked near the crow without the mask, the reaction was normal, but as soon as the researcher put on the same mask that he used while stealing the eggs, the crow reacted by shouting and alerting everyone to the imminent danger. So the crows taught their children to distinguish this face and be aware of it in the future, and they were able to pass this information on to the new generation. This is a very important point in the world of biology, as it symbolizes the existence of means of communication and cumulative learning between the group.
According to a scientific paper published in 2014, the intelligence of a crow is estimated to be as intelligent as an 8-year-old human child. The paper is called:
Modifications to the Aesop’s Fable Paradigm Change New Caledonian Crow Performances