Wellington: Calling someone bird-brained can be disparaging, but certain bird species are indeed smarter than we think. Crows, for example, solve problems instinctively, although other animals rarely do it spontaneously, according to a new research.
Crows are able to rapidly access food hung on the end of a long string by repeatedly pulling and then stepping on the string. For over 400 years it has been a mystery as to how the birds spontaneously solve the "string pulling" problem.
Researchers from University of Auckland, New Zealand, show that birds do not first solve such problems in their heads. Rather, problem solving occurs online as the bird makes the food on the end of the string move, the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences online reports.
"Crows and parrots have long been known to solve the string pulling problem immediately. Our research shows that these performances are due to the birds being able to react in the moment to the effects of their actions, rather than being able to mentally plan out their actions," says Alex Taylor, who led the study, according to an Auckland statement.
"String pulling appears to be based on a different type of intelligence than we had thought. Instead of the crows using sophisticated cognitive software to model the world, it appears their neural hardware is sufficiently well connected and/or specialised for them to react to the effect of their actions immediately.
"This allows them to solve problems that other bird species cannot," says Taylor.