Human engineers are getting competition from innovative crows.
Crows living in the jungles of New Caledonia use tools to solve problems.
They're smarter than you think.
Most engineers walk around on two feet and wear trousers. Some flap their wings and wear feathers. Crow engineers. Today, on Engineering Works! Listen to the podcast
When we think about engineers, we usually think of them as humans who use science and technology to solve practical problems. Maybe design and build an airplane or a bridge or a computer. Now these humans may be getting some competition from technology-using crows.
These crows live in the jungles of New Caledonia, in the South Pacific, and they seem to be able to use tools to solve a pretty complicated problem. For crows, that is. Some Australian researchers gave them a problem. Pay attention. It's a little complicated.
They put a scrap of food outside the crows' cage, far enough away that the crows couldn't reach it. Also outside the cage was a long stick, long enough to reach the food but farther than the crows could reach. Inside the cage was a short stick, tied to the crows' perch. It was too short to reach the food, but long enough to reach the longer stick. Got all that?
No problem for the crows. They untied the string and used the short stick to get the long stick, which they used to reach the food. Just like that.
Not much of a problem, for a human engineer, but pretty nifty for a bird.
We don't see any problem-solving crows around here, but we're still done. See you next time.
Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station.