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Raven Planning

July 17, 2017

Ravens, like some great apes, plan ahead.



Raven planners. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The ancestor of great apes and ravens diverged over 300 million years ago, but they have a surprising number of behaviors in common. One is the ability to plan for the future, once considered a uniquely human trait. Lund University cognitive zoologists Can Kabadayi and Mathias Osvath taught the birds that they could use certain tools to retrieve food and collect tokens to barter with humans – behaviors they don’t exhibit in the wild. Later, the birds demonstrated that they could plan their tool and token use at least a day in advance, ignoring more immediate rewards that would have distracted more short-sighted animals like monkeys and dogs.

MATHIAS OSVATH (Lund University):

All birds succeeded convincingly in all tests. That’s a pretty impressive result.


The researchers write in journal Science that the skill must have evolved independently in apes and birds. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard