"Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana
) are so smart they’ve been compared
to 3-year-old humans. But what 3-year-old has made their own cutlery set?
Scientists have observed wild cockatoos, members of the parrot family, crafting
the equivalent of a crowbar, an ice pick, and a spoon to pry open one of their
favorite fruits. This is the first time any bird species has been seen creating
and using a set of tools in a specific order—a cognitively challenging behavior
previously known only in humans, chimpanzees, and capuchin monkeys.
The work “supports the idea that parrots have a general [type of] intelligence
that allows them to innovate creative solutions to the problems they run into
in nature,” says Alex Taylor, a biologist who studies New Caledonian crows at
the University of Auckland. “[It] establishes this species as one of the avian
family’s most proficient wild tool users.”
The discovery happened serendipitously when behavioral ecologist Mark O’Hara
was working with wild but captive birds in a research aviary on Yamdena Island
in Indonesia. “I’d just turned away, and when I looked back, one of the birds
was making and using tools,” says O’Hara, of the Messerli Research Institute.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes!”
The Goffin’s cockatoo is known for being a clever and innovative social
learner. In captivity, the birds have solved complex puzzle boxes and invented
rakelike tools to retrieve objects. Several other birds, including hyacinth
macaws and New Caledonian crows, make and use tools in the wild, often to
extract food, but none seems to make a set of tools."
Via Emmanuel Florac and 7B'JaJaDa.
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*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics