Study shows that ravens can plan into the future


Although ravens are not known as very intelligent creatures, recent study shows that these black birds have a unique ability that exceeds the abilities of a young child. It turns out that ravens can plan for the future, similar as great apes.

This ability is most often linked with humans, and human behavior. Closest to humans, in terms of capability to plan ahead oh the needs, are primates.

After the new research, conducted by Can Kabadayi and Mathias Osvath from the Lund University of Sweden, ravens are entering this game too. The study showed that ravens also have advanced cognitive abilities.

The results also showed that ravens can, in some situations, exceed the abilities of four-year-old children and great apes. Of course, only when it comes to planing for the future.

Researches replicated a test that was used primarily for testing great apes’ planing capabilities. Firstly they taught the raves how to use a stone to release a little ball of food from a puzzle box. The next day, researchers presented ravens with choices. They could pick a stone or several other items that were there to distract them 15 minutes before giving them puzzle box again. In spite of the delay, ravens chose the correct tool 80 percent of the time and use it correctly 86 percent of the time.

They were provided with another test. Scientists gave them the chance to exchange bottle caps for food. Same as in the previous, in this test ravens were able to pick the bottle caps even after delay even when they were presented with other distracting objects.

The most impressive fact was that ravens chose correctly even after a 17-hour delays.

Ravens were subjected to two more tests, but now to see how much are they capable of self-control. They presented the ravens with several items, all at once: the stone or bottle cap, an immediate reward and the distractors. When given this without the token or the tool, in the control tests, ravens always chose immediate reward, in every single case. But when the took or the token were given beside, they chose the tool 73.8 percent of time and the token 73.2 percent of the time.

Research results imply that ravens have the ability to plan and decide for the future regardless of their immediate sensory context. Experts say that possible explanation for this are their complex social networks and the rarity of their meal sources. According to them, that made ravens to learn to clever utilization of their resources.

First we learned that ravens have the ability to remember human faces, and now that they can plan for the future. We are probably yet to learn about the full capabilities of these intelligent creatures.