[the all seeing eye of a raven: pbs nature]


Spiegel online International has recently reported that ravens are indeed the smartest guys around town. This is, of course, according to leading ravenologists Mareike Stöwe and Thomas Bugnyar at the Konrad Lorenz Research Center in Grünau, Austria. Most recent diversions for these wily birds include such recreation as what the experts have dubbed wild boar rodeo, in which

The especially courageous [ravens] grab a boar by the tail and let themselves be towed through the snow on their backs, as if by a drag lift.


Were watching a raven be dragged around by a boar the extent of the research undertaken, i would be slightly dubious as to the ravenologists’ claims of their chosen object of study’s intelligence, however!: the following observations should really convince any sceptics of the superior-mind-at-work behind the -oh-so-evil-eye of every blackbird….


  • ravens are scavengers: when eating flesh, it will have been killed by another beast-of-prey, for example a wolf. Now, if a raven sees an animal weaker than a wolf, it will croak and scream to direct the attention of any nearby wolves to this animal in order, of course, for them to kill it, the raven, lover of carrion that it is, feeding on the remains.
  • When plundering a corpse of rotting flesh, a raven will not necessarily eat it straight away. More often than not it will grab as much as it can and hide it elsewhere, then go back and repeat this process so as to retrieve more meat for the long term.
  • If two ravens are plundering the same corpse, each will remember where the other has buried their fleshy carrion treasure. Not only this, but each one will note that the other has noticed where they have buried their food. For this reason some ravens may pretend to hide their food in one particular place, then transfer it elsewhere when no other glimmering black eyes are watching.
  • Now this is amazing: lets say raven X and raven Y are tearing apart a corpse. Not only, for instance, will raven X be watching raven Y in order to see where raven Y puts its stash and not only will raven Y be aware of raven X’s voyeuristic hatching-of-a-plan, BUT raven X will pretend NOT to be watching, it will pretend to be grooming its feathers or something like that so as not to arouse the suspicion of raven Y. However, were raven X watching a wolf bury some meat it would do so openly and dig it up as soon as the wolf was out of sight because the raven knows that wolves are stupid.

As the Spiegel will tell you,

They have a long evolutionary process of espionage and counter-espionage to build on, in the course of which they [ravens] became masters of deceit and problem-solving. They got better and better at guessing the intentions of others and concealing their own. “Ravens are cognitively equal to a two-year-old child,” says Bugnyar.




five ravens

[five ravens pretending not to watch each other pretending not to watch each other.]

Seeing the television quiz show is effectively dead, perhaps the next step is an animal think-off, a show in which the mind of a raven is pitted against that of a dolphin to see once and for all which animal intellect towers above the rest, engulfed in its very shadow. However, at the earliest signs of defeat, would the crow get some wolves onto the dolphin’s ass? Rrrarrk! Or would the dolphin attempt to get frisky with the crow, perhaps, highly sexualised creature that it is?

The dolphins! Sexual appetite vs intelligence in animals other than human beings? Do you remember the trouble Peter Singer got into with the neocon. born-agains who probably aren’t anywhere near as clever as crows for posing the question: is bestiality really wrong if instigated by the animal? This was in particular reference to dolphins getting frisky with humans.

See Newswise: Animals Think in Their Own Way, But Unlike Humans to find out whether or not dolphins are the only species apart from humans that engage in sex for pleasure and not for procreation and that

among Australian dolphins sex is quite violent.

[sexual predators of the pacific. The dolphin Snake (pictured left, staring at you) pictured above is wanted on hundreds of charges of coercion and intercourse with humans: see this]