courtesy of Alaska Dispatch
by Doug O’Harra
Wild ravens in the Austrian alps have been observed using their beaks and body language to direct another raven’s attention to a specific object, marking the first time such complex gesturing has been documented in an animal outside of humans and their primate cousins.
The findings suggest that Corvus corvax — those canny black birds that dominant both Alaska Native myth and Anchorage’s winter-time parking lots — may have communication abilities and intelligence that puts them on par with bonobos.
By repeatedly demonstrating a kind of “look at that” gesture thought to be at the foundation of human language — behavior seen in human infants beginning at about the age of 1 — the birds may even be smarter than some nonhuman primates, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Communications.