Aesop's Crows Understand Physics, Literature
30.11.2020 Elizabeth Preston

Aesop told the fable of a thirsty crow that came upon a nearly empty pitcher of water and discovered that by dropping pebbles in, he could raise the water to a drinkable level. The moral is "Little by little does the trick"--or was that "Necessity is the mother of invention"? Either way, scientists have enjoyed testing non-fictional members of the clever corvid family with this puzzle. Most recently, wild crows showed scientists they're smart enough for a whole barrage of Aesop-inspired challenges.

New Zealand psychologist Alex Taylor led the study of five New Caledonian crows that had been captured from the wild. The birds (Caesar, Laura, Bess, Mimic and Pepe, since you asked) were each given an extensive series of tests while visually separated from their peers. Like one of those computer games where you walk into a dead-end room and have to find the secret button that opens a submarine hatch and takes you someplace more interesting, the crows were presented with varied apparatuses and had to figure out which objects were tools that would help get a tasty treat into their beaks.

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