Good with tools? You might be a cockatoo

We humans pride ourselves on our superior intelligence, given our ability to light a fire, use gadgets, and subscribe to Netflix. But if other animals can counter that assumption, they might say they’re just fine, thank you.

The last participant in the Animal Intelligence Sweepstakes is Goffin’s Cockatoo. Birds in a laboratory in Vienna spread a pointed stick and a straw To extract cashew nuts from a clear box. They used the stick to punch a hole in a paper barrier that the scientists had set up, then used the straw to get the cashews out. When the scientists removed the paper barrier, some of the birds left the pointed stick at home, author Irene Garcia de Jesús reports. Why carry more tools than you need?

Wild cockatoos in Indonesia use three different sticks to open their fruit pits. Other animals, including crows, also use tools but do not use multiple objects as a toolkit. This places these cockatoos in the rarefied realm alongside chimpanzees as the only non-human animals known to use toolkits.

Last year, García de Jesús reported another epic cockatoo skill – He outsmarts the humans trying to stop the birds from raiding the trash cans (SN: 10/8/22 and 10/22/22, p. 10). Many people, myself included, have resorted to using a brick or bungee to prevent nighttime snacking by raccoons and opossums. Sydney’s cockatoos were sneering at such a frivolous effort. They soon discovered they could pay a brick. But it has been thwarted, at least for the time being, when humans put water bottles or sticks in the back handles of crates. Birds seem to learn while humans invent new defenses.

And lest you think that the brains of birds have a lock on the intelligence of animals, Fish may be able to recognize themselves in pictures or a mirror. Researchers in Japan found that when looking in a mirror, the blue streak-cleansing herbs would try to get rid of the marks the researchers had placed on their bodies. The fish can also distinguish their faces in the photos from those of other cleaner fish. Not all scientists are convinced that fish are self-aware, but proponents of fish say it’s time to give aquatic vertebrates their due role, independent contributor Betsy Mason.

This makes sense, given that goldfish can drive. Researchers in Israel taught six goldfish how to drive a tank filled with water to destinations around the room, we reported on last year (SN: 2/12/22, p. 4). The fish were trained to go toward a pink board on one side of the room and could find it even when the researchers moved the board to another wall.

We loved the story of driving the goldfish so much that we turned it into a comic for her Science News ExploresOur magazine and website for young readers. Obviously, we weren’t the only ones who were charmed. the Sailing fish comicalong with another on Litter boxes – raiding cockatoos And the third about Panda camouflage skillswon first prize in children’s science journalism at the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards 2022.

Thank you animals for continuing to amaze us, even as you take away from our arrogant sense of superiority. Some animals even use computers, including non-human primates that have been trained to use touch screens. It’s only a matter of time before they write our editor’s notes.

be seen Science News Explores‘A comic about goldfish’s drivers

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