Links for August 9, 2017

We Knew Ravens Are Smart. But Not This Smart

In the final experiments, the ravens could choose between an inferior immediate food reward (a smaller, less-tasty piece of kibble) and a token for their favorite kibble they could trade later—a concept called delayed gratification.

“Humans devalue things that take place in the future,” says Osvath, emphasizing people typically go for instant rewards.

Ravens seem to be a little more patient, selecting the tool or token that would get them the better food in the near future over 70 percent of the time.

Ravens parallel great apes in flexible planning for tool-use and bartering

The Crow Who Never Learned to Fly, and Then Taught Herself

As they watched Nugget more closely, though, the researchers began to think something else might be going on. Eventually, Nugget began adding to her flap-and-hop routine, tacking on bouts of running, jumping from perch to perch, and even climbing the wire that made up the sides of the cage. “It progressed from this weird, disjointed behavior to this really complex pattern,” says Davie. “And then all of a sudden she was flying.”

‘We Thought We Would Be Ruled By Robots’

We know, for example, that most urban crows aren’t born in cities, they come from big families in the suburbs and flee the nest in their youth looking for the riches big city living can provide. Urban living stresses them out, but once they arrive, they never leave. Not all city crows are the same – each city has its own unique social scene. In general, city crows are more fearless, live in smaller spaces, love pizza, have fewer kids, and are smarter than their suburban counterparts.

[See also Links for June 12, 2017]