Aesop proved right about crows

Written By Lingkar Dunia on Saturday, December 17, 2011 | 6:35 PM

WHO WAS AESOP?

A Greek slave who lived more than 2500 years ago, Aesop has gone down in history because of the fables -- or stories with a moral -- that he told.   Many writers, including Aristotle, are known to have referred to both Aesop and his stories, but over the centuries since then they have become popular reading for children.

Some of his best-known fables include The Tortoise and the Hare and The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Well, we all know those ones.  The tortoise proves to the hare that dogged persistence wins, and the boy who cried wolf proved that telling the same lie too often can rebound on the teller (politicians and financial hucksters, take note)

In the fable of The Crow and the Pitcher, a thirsty crow learns to raise the water level in a pitcher by dropping in stones. The tale concludes with the proverb: ''Necessity is the mother of invention.''

Well, a recent experiment in New Zealand has proved that crows really are that intelligent.

In a re-creation of the fable, Auckland University psychology researchers Dr Gavin Hunt, Professor Russell Gray and Dr Alex Taylor presented wild New Caledonian crows with a tall half-filled tube of water, which had a small piece of meat floating on the surface.

When given a collection of stones, each of the four birds – Pepe, Caesar, Mimic and Laura – quickly learned to drop them into the tube to raise the water level, allowing them to fish out the food.

They were even more clever than that, however. When given a selection of small and large stones, the crows picked out the large stones, which displaced more water at once and brought the food within reach more quickly.

"[The] crows showed an immediate preference for large, rather than small stones, with two crows actually discarding small stones the first time they picked them up and before they had observed their effect on the water level," the researchers wrote.

Read more and see a video of the bright birds HERE

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