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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

Bird-brain? Think again.

A new study published at Plos One reveals that cockatoos can pick complicated locks, with one bird unraveling the five interlocking components without being given a demonstration beforehand.

The paper is actually titled:

Explorative Learning and Functional Inferences on a Five-Step Means-Means-End Problem in Goffin’s Cockatoos (Cacatua goffini)

An abstract extract:

Most birds showed a ratchet-like progress, rarely failing to solve a stage once they had done it once. In most transfer tests subjects reacted flexibly and sensitively to alterations of the locks’ sequencing and functionality.

Alex Kacelnik, a professor of zoology at Oxford University ... and his colleagues, Alice Auersperg and Auguste von Bayern at the University of Vienna, placed a cashew nut behind a window fastened shut by a thin metal bar. The birds had to get through four additional locks that required them to pull a pin, turn a screw, remove a bolt, and rotate a wheel to reach the reward. More importantly, they had to do those actions in the correct order. If a cockatoo completed the first task, the scientists then rearranged the order of the four locks. They wanted to see whether the birds could modify their lock-picking behavior by doing the same four actions but in a different sequence.

Via Boing Boing on PLOS ONE.

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One more episode in the great scientists' conspiracy against religion. One more fact that will need to be avoided by the pious.

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Replies to This Discussion

How very interesting! 

Yeah! They can be regular Houdinis when they want to be! 

All this with a brain smaller than your pinky's fingernail.

If they can do it with a brain that small then why aren't we a lot more brilliant than we are  using the ratio of their brains to our brain? 

God. He's why we can't have good things. =)

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