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Title: How the rook sees the world : a study of the social and physical cognition of Corvus frugilegus
Author: Bird, C. D.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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Recently, empirical studies combining both an ethological and comparative psychology approach have revealed that some species of birds, particularly corvids, are remarkably intelligent, both in the social and technical domain. evidence has come from a range of species within this family, leading to claims that individual corvid species have evolved particular adaptive specialisations rather than possessing a more generalised intelligence. This thesis investigates some of the key components of the social and physical cognition of one species, the rook, in order to gain a more complete picture of its intelligence. The experiments in this thesis show that rooks possess a number of core components of social intelligence, such as individual recognition, behaviour reading and coordination, that are not necessarily cognitively complex but that may be used to solve social problems; suggesting caution must be used when speculating as to whether they possess more advanced social intelligence. On the other hand, it appears that rooks often solve physical problems using cognitively advanced and generalised causal reasoning, rivalling the great apes in their physical intelligence. Rooks were able to insightfully solve novel problems by using tools and demonstrated an understanding of object properties and unobservable folk-physical forces. The experiments introduce novel methodologies that may prove useful in further revealing how rooks and other animals ‘see’ the world from a cognitive perspective.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available