Tiny insects could be as intelligent as much bigger animals-

This finding really amazed me, but we certainly see it in some birds like ravens and crows. They are no “birdbrains.”

Bigger Not Necessarily Better, When It Comes to Brains. ScienceDaily

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

11 Responses to Animals: Bigger Not Necessarily Better, When It Comes to Brains

  1. avatar April clauson says:

    Not anything new to me, I have owned many small animals, and birds, and I know they are pretty smart for their size. they know how to communicate with out words (except my birds, they talked) just by their actions. they can sort stuff out on their own. Amazes me how much money is wasted on these studies, just own or be around them for a bit and you can tell this. Rats are one of the most loving and intelligent pets I have owned. and crows know enough to get a nut and drop it in traffic so the cars break it for them to eat and they never get hit!

  2. avatar dewey says:

    You don;t have to hang around Ravens, Crows, and Magpies very long to realize how canny they really are. I haven’t tried this personally , but a bit of ral histor in my family says if you slit their tongues a wee bit, 3-4 inch fork, they can be made to talk in understandable speech like parrots. Start ’em young by raiding the nest for chicks about to fledge. Works especially well with the bigger Ravens. So sayeth the man my mom almost married, anyway.

    I nominate the Fishing Raven of Finland. A Finlander with a private stocked fish pond wondered why his little Icefishing widgets were coming up empty. He would auger a few fishing holes in the ice, drop in the weighted hook and bait lines , and set up a spring loaded flag that would pop up when a fish hit took the bait. Sitting up at his house , he’d occasionally watch for flags then go down and retrieve the fish when he saw a flag up …except there weren’t any. A local Raven had been observing all this and soon figured out the flags meant ” dinner on the line”. The Raven would fly down , and use it’s beak to pull the line up—- and this is the important part—- standing on the slack with its feet when it drew up the next length. The Raven would “reel in” the fish and figured out how to keep the fishing line from falling back in the hole till it had the fish free and clear. Not exactly employing a ” tool ” , but one heckuva demonstration of intelligence. The old saying is a fisherman need only be smarter than the fish . Turns out he has to be smarter than Ravens , too.

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/ravens/video-raven-intelligence/1549/

    ( I hope that link is still good…)

  3. avatar gline says:

    LOL Dewey the link is still good. Very good video! LOL for the day…

  4. avatar nabeki says:

    Crows, ravens, magpies etc. are among the smartest of birds. They actually outperformed dogs in certain tests. They have large brains and family social groups. They play games.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvidae

    I watch the jays on my bird feeder. The jays always get their way. They mob other birds sometimes to get rid of them. They were the first birds that came to my bird feeder. I put out blue ribbons, for “line of sight” and it worked. That was thirteen years ago and now I have whole families that come. Sometimes they bring their babies in the spring to feed them. It’s wonderful.

  5. avatar Erin Barca says:

    Slitting anything’s tongue is cruelty. You don’t need to slit a raven’s tongue for them to be able to mimic human speech. They do this uncannily well with their own anatomy intact.

    Several videos are available on YouTube that demonstrate this. Here are a few:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZyBNWVD70w

  6. avatar nabeki says:

    Erin….
    WOW! I’ve had several parrots, including an African gray and this raven’s voice on the beach is so human sounding. I always knew they were smart birds but this is amazing!

  7. avatar Erin Barca says:

    Ravens are indeed amazing. And protected in the states under the Migratory Bird Treat Act, dewey. So raiding nests without the proper permits is a poor suggestion.

    I somehow missed that part, and don’t mean to derail. But I think it’s important to point out.

    Thanks for linking the original article Ralph, it’s a very interesting read and I shall have to share it.

  8. avatar dewey says:

    P.S. The anecdote of my mother’s almost mate who used to catch baby Ravens and other birds to domesticate them , and slit their tongues etc , occurred before World War II. I’ve not heard of it being done in my lifetime ever. Oral history of talking cuervos.

    However, there was this semi-domesticated Magpie living closely with folks along the long par 5 hole # 15 fairway at the ritzy golf course in Cody . The opportunistic bird learned to mess with all those little white balls that kept plunking down on “his” turf, and the oddly dressed hominids who put them there. The seven Magpies who one year lived around my late ladyfriend’s ranchette on the South Fork used to play the most extraordinary games with her cats. They vocalized very well, too. Uncanny , the sounds they would make. It was not noise…it was some kind of language, I swear.

  9. avatar Percy says:

    magpies learn to speak as well. I was taking care of a friend’s magpie once. He flew free, but was bonded to people. While I was watering the garden, he flew down to the hose to watch and play. I said “water, w a t e r” and he immediately responded by repeating the word. amazing birds.

    April, I have some pet rats. Indeed they are incredibly smart and affectionate. They have been successful at training me to do many things.

  10. Dr. Charles “Chuck” Trost (professor emeritus at Idaho State University) studied magpies extensively.

    He has indicated that small flocks of magpies even perform a ritual over dead magpies they know that seems to be like a funeral.

  11. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    I have always believed that small animals must have micro-chips. Even the scorpions I am studying here in Baja have a social order and seem to recognize human voices.

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