The One Where Ravens Outsmart Chimpanzees!

A memory like an elephant, that’s how the saying goes isn’t it? But, as new research published in Animal Behavior this week shows, ravens may not be far behind.


Müller et al. found that ravens were able to remember specifically if people were fair or unfair to them during an interaction (food exchange). In the future, the ravens were more likely to choose to interact with people they remembered as having a positive experience.

Even more amazing was that these ravens could remember this for up to a month after the first exchange!

Only about a week ago a colleague of mine was talking about how she had had some experience with ravens and how incredibly smart they are.

She told me that they had to be extremely careful when working with ravens, especially how they unlocked, and locked gates. The ravens would watch them and then would try to open the locks and were sometimes successful!

This meant a very complex process of opening and closing the gates needed to be employed.

Ravens demonstrate remarkable problem solving skills. They are known to utilise tools, often using twigs or branches to catch food and also dropping nuts in the path of cars so the outer shell can be broken open!


Ravens are known for their logical thinking and ability to follow processes to solve problems, some researchers comparing their intelligence to chimpanzees, who have much larger brains. So why is this so, when ravens and other birds lack a cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for cognitive functions such as learning, language, and memory?

It was found that ravens are able to problem solve just as well as chimpanzees due to the large density of neurons in their brain, particularly the forebrain. This potentially enables ravens to problem solve, utilise tools, and demonstrate a memory of events.

If you need to see some evidence of these amazing birds using tools, have a quick look at some of these videos!

I’m sure the next time you pass a raven, you won’t look at them the same way!




6 thoughts on “The One Where Ravens Outsmart Chimpanzees!

Add yours

  1. I love this! It’s fascinating just how often intelligence is showing up in species you wouldn’t expect to find it, using “untraditional” mechanisms. Even slime molds are able to solve simple problems and mazes. Truly incredible. How long before some kind of consciousness is recognised in the abiotic world?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It gives a certain credence to the notion of a ghost in the machine for me. As in, has consciousness always existed in one form or another, embedded in the fabric of the universe?

        Liked by 1 person

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