Corvids, the family of birds that includes crows and ravens, give a whole new meaning to the term “bird brain.”
They show the same level of self-regulation when faced with potential rewards as chimps do, according to a study published last week in the journal Royal Society Open Science — suggesting that these birds may be just as clever as chimps, despite having smaller brains.
Scientists have long known that brain size alone is not a measure of intelligence, and the international team of researchers behind this new study argues that intelligence may be related to the brain’s structure and how many neurons it has.
“Absolute brain size is not the whole story,” Can Kabadayi, a doctoral student in cognitive science at Lund University in Sweden and lead author of the study, says in a video (above) that the university released on Tuesday.
The researchers conducted the common “cylinder test” — which has been used previously to test the intelligence of various primate species — with five common ravens, 10 Eurasian jackdaws and 10 New Caledonian crows.
The experiment involved placing food in a clear tube and measuring birds’ intelligence by looking at whether they gave in to the impulse to retrieve it as soon as they saw it or reached around the side of the tube to access the treat.