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Ravens pass tests of planning ahead in unnatural tasks

Challenges not found in nature strengthen case that certain birds evolved some apelike thinking

2:20pm, July 13, 2017

SUPERPOWER  Ravens may have a birdlike version of the power to plan ahead — as apes do.

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Ravens have passed what may be their toughest tests yet of powers that, at least on a good day, let people and other apes plan ahead.

Lab-dwelling common ravens (Corvus corax) in Sweden at least matched the performance of nonhuman apes and young children in peculiar tests of advanced planning ability. The birds faced such challenges as selecting a rock useless at the moment but likely to be useful for working a puzzle box and getting food later.

Ravens also reached apelike levels of self-control, picking a tool instead of a ho-hum treat when the tool would eventually allow them to get a fabulous bit of kibble 17 hours later, Mathias Osvath and Can Kabadayi of Lund University in Sweden report in the July 14 Science.

“The insight we get from the experiment is that [ravens] can plan for the future outside

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