December 9, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Crows and Apes Related by Convergent Evolution

Scientists have noticed that crows have some of the same tool-making skills as apes, and in fact, are even better tool makers.  How could such vastly different animals show such similar mental skills?  Science1 explains this as another example of convergent evolution:

Discussions of the evolution of intelligence have focused on monkeys and apes because of their close evolutionary relationship to humans.  Other large-brained social animals, such as corvids [crows and ravens], also understand their physical and social worlds.  Here we review recent studies of tool manufacture, mental time travel, and social cognition in corvids, and suggest that complex cognition depends on a “tool kit” consisting of causal reasoning, flexibility, imagination, and prospection.  Because corvids and apes share these cognitive tools, we argue that complex cognitive abilities evolved multiple times in distantly related species with vastly different brain structures in order to solve similar socioecological problems.

Yet that poses a conundrum; how could a crow or an ape evolve a cognitive toolkit without having the reasoning ability to decide they needed the toolkit to solve socioecological problems?  The evolutionary jargon is sufficient explanation for these evolutionists: “cognition in corvids and apes must have evolved through a process of divergent brain evolution with convergent mental evolution.
    See also the report on National Geographic News, which says crows rival many nonhuman primates in intelligence.  James Owen concludes, “If we’re as smart as we think we are, perhaps we need to keep an even closer eye on those clever old crows.”  A picture of crows perched happily on the arms of a scarecrow comes to mind….


1Nathan J. Emery and Nicola S. Clayton, “The Mentality of Crows: Convergent Evolution of Intelligence in Corvids and Apes,” Science, Vol 306, Issue 5703, 1903-1907, 10 December 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1098410].

How this kind of nonsense makes it past peer review is a study in the devolution of intelligence.  They just make up phrases out of Darwin Silly Putty and call it an answer; “divergent evolution” and “convergent evolution.”  That explains everything.  How many million mutations had to converge for this trick?  The authors show good flexibility, imagination and prospection, but need to evolve some better causal reasoning.

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Categories: Birds, Dumb Ideas, Mammals

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