Monday, August 24, 2009

Cunning Corvids

They can tell us apart, but we can't tell them apart.

And now, it seems, adaptive thinking is not solely relegated to the higher mammals. Rooks can make tools as well as crows, a finding that reduces the likelihood of a strange evolutionary pressure resulting in the earlier Caledonian crow findings.

Increasingly we understand that myths about ravens are not far at all from the truth. They truly can lead large predators to prey. They will hitch a ride on a boar's back, and the young grow up learning how to test wolves' limits. Indeed, ravens and wolves have been seen playing.

At some point we will learn that intelligence has evolved into its own family tree, and that our brain size does not necessarily indicate a monopoly upon certain kinds of intelligent thought. In fact, our brain size may well be getting in the way of certain types of thought - the premise for Kurt Vonnegut's wonderful Galapagos. Hopefully, however, increased understanding and respect for the intelligence evidenced by our fellow inhabitants will save us from our own big-brained extinction.

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