The Mentality of Crows: Convergent Evolution of Intelligence in Corvids and Apes

  title={The Mentality of Crows: Convergent Evolution of Intelligence in Corvids and Apes},
  author={Nathan J. Emery and Nicola S. Clayton},
  pages={1903 - 1907}
Discussions of the evolution of intelligence have focused on monkeys and apes because of their close evolutionary relationship to humans. Other large-brained social animals, such as corvids, also understand their physical and social worlds. Here we review recent studies of tool manufacture, mental time travel, and social cognition in corvids, and suggest that complex cognition depends on a “tool kit” consisting of causal reasoning, flexibility, imagination, and prospection. Because corvids and… 

Convergent Evolution of Cognition in Corvids, Apes and Other Animals

With the authors' expanding awareness of cognitive processes across species, attributes such as causal reasoning, mental time travel or mental attribution, once thought unique to humans, invite careful reconsideration of their evolutionary origins.

Sociality, Evolution and Cognition

Social ecology of corvids

Recent behavioural studies in corvids (i.e. crows and jays) have demonstrated their sophisticated cognitive abilities such as mental-time travel, theory-of-mind-like ability, reasoning, and tool

Cognitive ornithology: the evolution of avian intelligence

  • N. Emery
  • Biology, Psychology
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2005
This review discusses recent studies of avian cognition contrasting two different approaches; the anthropocentric approach and the adaptive specialization approach and suggests that complex cognition has evolved in species with very different brains through a process of convergent evolution rather than shared ancestry, although the notion that birds and mammals may share common neural connectivity patterns is discussed.

Social brains, simple minds: does social complexity really require cognitive complexity?

This paper argues for greater attention to embodied and distributed theories of cognition, which get away from current fixations on ‘theory of mind’ and other high-level anthropocentric constructions, and allow for the generation of testable hypotheses that combine neurobiology, psychology and behaviour in a mutually reinforcing manner.

The Evolution of Mentalizing in Humans and Other Primates

Comparative experiments with humans and other primates suggest that theory of mind has deep phylogenetic roots: its most basic foundations appear to be shared widely among primates while more sophisticated precursors are found only in the authors' closer relatives.

Convergent evolution of complex cognition: Insights from the field of avian cognition into the study of self-awareness

The discussion of cognitive and metacognitive abilities in avian species is expanded, suggesting that an integrated assessment of these processes, together with revised and multiple tasks of mirror self-recognition, might shed light on one of the most highly debated topics in the literature—self-awareness in animals.

Social cognition in ravens.

  • T. Bugnyar
  • Biology
    Comparative cognition & behavior reviews
  • 2013
It is argued that ravens represent a promising case for testing the idea that sophisticated social cognition may evolve in systems with a given degree of social complexity, independently of phylogeny.



Convergence of Complex Cognitive Abilities in Cetaceans and Primates

  • L. Marino
  • Biology, Psychology
    Brain, Behavior and Evolution
  • 2002
Evidence that convergent intelligence has occurred in two distantly related mammalian taxa is provided and these findings have important implications for understanding the generality and specificity of those processes that underlie cognition in different species and the nature of the evolution of intelligence.

Evolution of the brain and intelligence

Social complexity and transitive inference in corvids

Pinyon jays learned to track multiple dyadic relationships more rapidly and more accurately than scrub-jays and appeared to display a more robust and accurate mechanism of transitive inference.

Theory of mind in nonhuman primates

  • C. Heyes
  • Psychology, Biology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1998
A procedure that uses conditional discrimination training and transfer tests to determine whether chimpanzees have the concept “see” is proposed and critics are invited to identify flaws in the procedure and to suggest alternatives.

Comparative vertebrate cognition : are primates superior to non-primates?

This book discusses the complex Cognition of Birds and Primates, social learning, Sodal Learning, Innovation, and Intelligence in Fish, and the Evolution of Lateralized Motor Functions.

Mental time travel and the evolution of the human mind.

It is argued that the human ability to travel mentally in time constitutes a discontinuity between ourselves and other animals and allows a more rapid and flexible adaptation to complex, changing environments than is afforded by instincts or conventional learning.

Human–like, population–level specialization in the manufacture of pandanus tools by New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides

  • G. Hunt
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2000
New evidence of human-like specialization in crows' manufacture of hook tools from pandanus leaves is found: functional lateralization or ‘handedness’ and the shaping of these tools to a rule system, the first demonstration that a population bias for handedness in tool-making and the shape of tools to rule systems are not concomitant with symbolic thought and language.

The Mentality of Apes.

PROF. KÖHLER'S book marks a distinct advance in comparative psychology, for he was able to study his chimpanzees in very favourable conditions of health and housing in Teneriffe. He also realised

Feeding innovations and forebrain size in birds

The study confirms predicted trends linking opportunism, brain size and rate of structural evolution and suggests that innovation rate in the field may be a useful measure of behavioural plasticity.

Tool selectivity in a non-primate, the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides)

An experiment is presented showing that New Caledonian crows are able to choose tools of the appropriate size for a novel task, without trial-and-error learning.