Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tool Use--Not So Damn Smart?

Turns out the last remaining dinosaurs are pretty damned smart when it comes to tool use. Captivity-reared rooks (corvids, part of the same family that counts crows and ravens) not only can solve tool-use puzzles, but can translate that solution to new puzzles. And, as we've seen before, they can also create tools from components--taking a bit of wire and bending it into a hook in order to access food bits. The Guardian website is hosting a lovely bit of video that shows a rook first using a large rock to release a reward snack, and then facing the same problem, but this time with a different sized tube. The rook first leans toward the large rock it used in the first case, but then realizes that the tube is smaller, and grabs the small rock to release the snack.
To quote the article:
Corvids are among the most social of bird species, and it is thought their intelligence helps them to recognise each other. The birds do not appear to have evolved tool skills, but are simply intelligent enough to work out how they can help.

So intelligence doesn't necessarily have anything to do with tool use. Ain't that a kick in the head?

No comments: