The reason humans are considered to be at the top of the food chain is to do with intelligence, which is measured by their ability to build and use complex tools to solve day-to-day issues. However, recent research has revealed that a number of animals also display similarly intelligent behavior.
The fact that the chimpanzee tops the list should come as no big surprise - after all, they do share 99% of our DNA - But the New Caledonian Crow? Found only in the remote South Pacific Island of New Caledonia, the bird resembles other crows in every way, except for its sophisticated tool use, which beats not only most birds, but also, most primates, including monkeys.
The fact that the crows use many kinds of tools, which they craft from trees and shrubs is not that surprising- many animals and even insects are able to do that. What is surprising, is that they can select the right tools or use them in combination to get a task done - A sign that clearly reflects the intelligence of the species.
To test this, University of Auckland researcher Alex Taylor and his team, showed seven crows a piece of meat inside a tree hollow and then placed near them a stick that was too short to get to the food. Right next to it, they also placed two cages, one with a useless stone, the other, with a stick that was long enough to pull the meat.
They then watched in awe as each one of the birds figured out how to get to the meat - by first using the small stick as a tool to pull out the longer one, and then utilize the latter, to get to the food.
Alex and his team then reversed the sticks placing the long one near the birds and the short one in the cage. While their first reaction was to perform the previous routine, the birds quickly realized they didn't really need to and went on to pick the meat, using just the long stick. Though this kind of logical reasoning is common in humans, it has so far been observed only in chimpanzees and orangutans in the animal world - And, it gets better.
The latest study of these super-intelligent crows shows that they are now utilizing their tool-use aptitude to grab themselves the most nutritious foods - beetle larvae. Researchers have always wondered why the crows spend so much time trying to dislodge the larvae from tree trucks with twigs - A task that requires a lot of skill and patience.
Now, they have the answer - Apparently, these tiny grubs are so nutritious that eating just a few is enough to provide the crows with their day's nutritional needs - A fact they have obviously figured out a long time ago.
Also, these are not the only species of crows that are smart - Tel Aviv's hooded crow has figured out how to catch fish, by first scattering bits of bread into a pond and then snagging the unsuspecting fish as they surfaced to eat the crumbs.
And if that's not impressive enough, there is the Japanese crow who extracts nutmeats from their hard shells by simply dropping them on the road so that the cars can crush them. What's even better is that in order to avoid getting hit by the vehicles, they wait until the traffic light turns red, scooping the nuts only after the cars grind to a halt! Simply amazing!
Resources: advocacy.britannica.com,sciencemag.com,scienceblogs, com