Are You As Smart As A Raven?

-According to Norse mythology, the god Odin has two ravens that fly all over Midgard to gather information. It also adds to the growing body of evidence that intelligence has evolved a couple of times.In a study published in the journal Science, researchers Can Kabadayi and Mathias Osvath from Sweden’s Lund University gave ravens a battery of tests that have also been administered to great apes to prove that they have long-term planning abilities. “Like monkeys – they don’t even pass the baseline studies”. However, these studies-especially those in the birds-have been questioned. After all, compared to mammals, birds have small brains relative to their bodies, and bird brains lack a neocortex, which in mammals is thought to be the seat of higher-order thinking such as reasoning, problem-solving, language, and delaying gratification.Ravens, a member of the crow family, are known to store and hide their food for consumption later on. They can infer when they are being watched, suggesting that they possess a theory of mind.Although the evidence is new, the ability of ravens to see ahead has always been suspected: In Greek mythology, they are associated with the god of prophecy, an old term for a group of ravens is “conspiracy” and in Game of Thrones a three-eyed raven appears in a prince’s prophetic visions.In one test, ravens were trained to use a tool to open a puzzle box in order to access a reward. Then, after a short delay, the birds were shown several different objects without the reward box to see if they could select the correct item, and then save it for future use. Even human children under age four typically struggle to get it right.Finally, ravens were presented with the correct tool to open a box along and an immediate reward, but were only allowed to choose one or the other. She had outsmarted the human experimenters. For the experiment, the ravens were trained to pick a token out of a group of objects, then hold onto the token for fifteen minutes before exchanging it for a treat, reports Anil Ananthaswamy at New Scientist.Factors like environmental pressures or the fact that they are scavengers competing with each other could also contribute, he says. “Every single individual was highly significant in all conditions in all experiments”. They last shared an ancestor about 320 million years ago. In the course of raising the birds for research, the scientists sometimes release young that are raised by ravens. Other examples of convergence include the rise of flight among birds, bats, insects, and pterodactyls, and the evolution of opposable thumbs in primates, pandas, and opossums.But whether its convergence or parallelism, what sort of environment selects for intelligence?He says this kind of complex cognition may have developed in reaction to ravens’ complex social hierarchy. “Who’s your friend and who’s your foe can change very rapidly”.Osvath says that above all, ravens are playful, and in interacting with them, one gets a sense of each individual’s different personality and intelligence. This is considered to be the first ever study to be created to find out if any other animal can plan events that are going to be happening in the future as this can be immensely helpful in discovering how different species evolve to share the same intelligence brand. “Yes, we humans are incredibly unique beings”, he says.