Betty the crow may not have invented her hook-bending tool trick | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


News in Brief

Betty the crow may not have invented her hook-bending tool trick

Textbook example of ‘spontaneous’ toolmaking challenged by wild bird studies

By
7:05pm, August 9, 2016
crow bending stick

BIRD BENDING  A wild New Caledonian crow has used a hook it made to snag an insect. New studies of twig bending raise questions about an earlier report of a lab bird’s possible toolmaking insight.

View the video

Betty, heralded as a toolmaking prodigy among New Caledonian crows, may not have been such a whiz bird after all. Her apparently spontaneous wire-bending is getting a closer, skeptical look based on new information about what the birds do in the wild.

As a lab resident, Betty astounded researchers more than a decade ago by bending a wire into a hook — with no obvious design cues or known experience — and then using the hook to retrieve a treat from the depths of a tube. Described cautiously in 2002, the report of Betty’s hook became “widely considered one of the most compelling demonstrations of insightful behavior in nonhumans,” says Christian Rutz of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Now, tool tests of wild New Caledonian

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content