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Ravens Display Social Behaviour Remarkably Similar to That of Humans

Several recent studies have revealed that ravens are among the most intelligent species of birds and even species in general. But which factors caused the evolution of intelligence? According to a common hypothesis life in social groups can drive brain evolution especially when individuals benefit from remembering the identity of conspecifics and the interactions with them. With such knowledge, animals can avoid conflicts with higher ranking group members or develop alliances to gain better access to resources.

Researchers around Thomas Bugnyar in Austria and colleagues in France outfitted around 30 ravens with little "backpacks", which measured with GPS the position of the animal every hour. The devices were charged with solar power and the data were transmitted using the GSM network for mobile phones. During the last four years of data collection movements up to 160 kilometers per day were observed. In addition in Austria and Italy a total number of 332 ravens have been marked individually with colored rings and wing-tags and their presence patterns in two study sites were monitored over years.

Conclusion of the biologists: While some non-breeding ravens seem to stay only in relatively small areas, others may move thousands of kilometers per year. Still many ravens meet repeatedly in different locations usually at rich food sources (e.g. landfills, compost stations) and adjacent common night roosts. "We were surprised about the similarity to humans: Some people prefer to spend their entire life in a single city or even a small village, while others want to travel and explore the world. We find exactly the same in non-breeding ravens", says lead-author Matthias Loretto.


  • GrumpyGuyGrumpyGuy Member
    edited March 2017
    Scientists used to say that humans are the only sentient species on Earth, because only humans exhibit things like:

    1.  Self-awareness

    2.  Emotions

    3.  Tool use

    4.  Social structure

    5.  Language

    Well surprise - when scientists decided to stop their Frankenstein experiments on animals and actually observe and study their natural behaviours they found and continue to find clear examples of how numerous animals are just like us.

    Plenty of animals make and use tools, from different birds to apes to elephants and even dolphins.  Many animals have been observed teaching the creation and use of tools to new generations.  How could a mindless machine know to instruct other mindless machines?  It's a silly notion.

    Some of the more intelligent animal species are observed recognizing themselves in mirrors.  Put a spot on their forehead and show them a mirror, and they'll reach up to their own face to feel at the spot, out of surprise.  What does that mean, if not a certain amount of self-awareness?

    I think anyone at this point who still insists animals have no emotions is an idiot clinging to the outdated notion of human uniqueness and superiority.

    Plenty of species have been found to have advanced societies with constant examples of social events like teamwork, rebellion and even warfare.

    Many animals also communicate through sounds, including in ways we are unable to (elephants using infrasound, for example).  Just because they aren't standing at podiums giving speeches or writing articles about their lives doesn't automatically mean that no language can possibly exist.

    I think the biggest obstacle remaining to accepting many animals as a kind of "people" is the fact that we can't read their minds or have human-style conversations with them to fully "prove" that the above examples aren't merely convincingly advanced-looking automated mechanisms.

    They say, "Animals aren't intelligent because we can't communicate with them."  They then go on to say, "We will never be able to communicate with them, so they will never be intelligent."

    Sorry, but besides that being begging the question, history is filled with examples of things scientists "knew" were impossible suddenly being waved around in front of their faces.

    I personally and strongly believe that our definition of "people" is too narrow, and obsolete.  I also strongly believe that humans in the future, perhaps a century or two from now (assuming we're still around), will have *very* different views about animals and intelligence.

    Remember that scientists used to believe and teach that whites were genetically superior to other human races, even though there is no difference between a black man and a white man other than superficial physical characteristics (as we now know).  Everyone KNEW that whites were genetically superior, because, well, white people were writing the scientific papers that said so.

    Flawed and arrogant thinking still dictates a lot of what is "real" when it shouldn't.  That is a major failing of humanity.
  • Matt_ADMIN_Matt_ADMIN_ Administrator
    When I think about it and consider the content of a human conversation, there isn't much difference between two people speaking, and two people saying nothing at all. Perhaps one of the fundamental differences between humans and animals is our industrious exchange of inanity and dogma amongst one another.
    "...Say, 'GOD is sufficient for me.' In Him the trusters shall trust." (Quran 39:38)
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