Saturday, January 14, 2017

Crow Smarts by Pamela S. Turner

Humans are the smartest animals on Earth, right?  Most would agree with that but scientists are learning that there are other species who exhibit intelligence as well.  Preeminent scientist Louis Leakey said that tool use was what lifted prehistoric people up to become humans.  For many years this definition made sense as it seemed that other animals did not use tools.  However, Jane Goodall changed that preconception when she saw chimps using tools to get termites.  Since then, scientists have found other animals doing likewise.  My favorite example of this in the book is the picture of the alligator with a mouthful of feathers after using a stick as bait for an egret! 

Crows are one of the animals discovered to use tools.  This book deals specifically with the New Caledonian crow.  Scientists observing them first noticed that the crows used tools to get hard to reach food.  Since then, it has been found that the crows actually create their own tools and teach their young these skills.  In tests, the crows have used reasoning to figure out a three step problem and research is ongoing. 

The information about the crows' and other animals' intelligence is fascinating.  I wish the book had included even more of these stories.  For instance, the example of the crows who remember the people wearing masks many years later.  However, I didn't care much for the "funny" asides and comments.  I assume they were included to break up the "heavy" science-y parts - which weren't all that heavy in the first place - and to make the book seem more fun for younger readers.  But I found them to be a distraction from the topic. 

No comments:

Post a Comment