Triple-Tool-Wielding Crows Stun Scientists

Problem-solving ability rivals that of primates

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 21, 2010 4:27 AM CDT | Updated Apr 25, 2010 2:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – The crows of New Caledonia are astounding masters at making and using tools and can solve problems that would flummox many primates, say researchers. Three wild crows, presented with a problem requiring them to use a short tool attached to string to retrieve a larger tool from a box and obtain food with it, each solved it on their first attempt, the BBC reports.

"Finding that the crows could solve the problem even when they had to innovate two behaviors was incredibly surprising," the lead researcher said. The South Pacific crows have been observed in the wild whittling branches into hooks to retrieve food from hard-to-reach areas, a level of tool-making expertise scientists had previously believed was only found among humans and their nearest primate relatives.

New Caledonian crows are experts at making tools from unfamiliar materials, researchers say.
New Caledonian crows are experts at making tools from unfamiliar materials, researchers say.   (Shutter Stock)
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The crows needed to understand they needed the short tool on the piece of string to get the long tool, and then use the long tool to get the food. - Professor Russell Gray
of the University of Auckland

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