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Feathered Apes

Joanna Pinncok investigates corvids, the group of birds that includes rooks and crows. They are known for their canny and clever behaviour, but does that make them intelligent?

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.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Thu 29 Mar 2012 21:00


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