Thursday, April 22, 2010

Really something to crow about!

We used to think that we were Man the Toolmaker, because that was what made us uniquely human. Then, we lost our special place to other clever primates, who also could use tools. Marvelous, stunningly surprising, if humbling.

Step by step we are returned to the ordinary. But crows? Could they, too, put the kabosh on our egos? Of course, it's been known that they're clever (after all, Rossini wrote an opera, The Thieving Magpie, about that!). But you have to see this story and video from the Beeb. Here a crow uses a sequence of tools to get his treat. Apparently, according to the story, they do it even without prior exposure to the layout, and on the first time.

Maybe we have to even farther down the evolutionary Chain of Being before we get to the bottom of our uniqueness. But birds and humans have been separated for hundreds of millions of years, so this means that it's not an evolutionary shared trait (too many dumb-bell species on the way up both branches?). It evolved independently. That's even worse, as it makes IQ even more ordinary.

Oh, well, we're still the only species that can throw a baseball (at least, guys can....)

1 comment:

Texbrit said...

I guess we are the ones to decide what is "intelligence" and so we will identify creatures that share some of our same particular adaptations as "smart" and others equally successful but with more boring adaptations (like...pigeons and their remarkable ability to survive on popcorn and leftover chewing gum on town squares around the world! - not to be undervalued!).

Still, we wait for the long anticipated "Crows vs Magpies" double-header baseball game. Both are smart, but the Magpie surely has a smarter uniform. My money is on the 'pie - less power at the plate, but faster round the bases.