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Thu 29 Mar 2012 21:00 BBC Radio 4

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 27 March 2012

Primates are well known as having highly developed intelligence and in recent decades researchers have looked more closely at the evolution of intelligence in groups other than primates, such as parrots, dogs and dolphins. The corvids, members of the crow family which includes ravens and jackdaws, are known by many lay people to show behaviour which can be seen as intelligent.

Joanna Pinnock has long been interested in corvids, observing their behaviour in and around the village where she has lived for many years. Recently though, she discovered that the link between crows and man is not just one of a familiar black bird foraging in fields or nesting in our chimneys, there is actually a deeper connection insofar they too have lots of social interactions with each other - something that could be key in the evolution of intelligence. Joanna heads to Cambridge University to meet Nicky Clayton from the Department of Psychology who, along with colleagues, is undertaking detailed research into what Professor Clayton calls "Feathered Apes".

Is it the challenges in the social world that are more significant than the physical world when it comes to animal intelligence?

Presenter Joanna Pinncok
Producer : Andrew Dawes.

  • Jackdaw foraging

    Jackdaw foraging

    Image courtesy of G. Davidson, Comparative Cognition Lab.

  • Rooks at Nest in Aviary

    Rooks at Nest in Aviary

    Image courtesy of G. Davidson, Comparative Cognition Lab.

  • Eurasian Jay in Aviary

    Eurasian Jay in Aviary

    Image courtesy of L. Ostojic, Comparative Cognition Lab.


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