Are those pesky Ravens are screaming at you again? It is true that in many cultures Ravens are a symbol of bad luck and represent god’s messengers in the mortal world. In Greek mythology, we even read about Apollo sending a white raven to spy on his lover Coronis. But a raven’s call that sounds like a strange and eerie laugh may not just be to annoy you. As it turns out Ravens are extremely smart, to a point where they may be studying your movements and planning where to get the drop on you! Well, not you… but that loaf of bread you are carrying.
Ravens do definitely not get much love in the world and most people like to hate them. It is easy to see why the sharp beaks made for tearing dead animals up and their deep black eyes. Flocks of ravens regularly ravage dead animal carcasses, these are no fluffy bunnies. And then there is the problem that they are pretty smart, animals that can think tend to always scare us a little. But just because they can think for themselves doesn’t mean all their intentions are evil, when you look into ravens a bit closer they are pretty damn cool.
Did you know they can trick other animals into helping them? For example, if they locate a dead carcass that is not sufficiently broken up for them to get some tasty morsels off, ravens have been seen to alert wolves to the carcass. The wolves break up the dead animal, allowing the raven do get some nice tidbits. Studies have shown they can solve puzzles and can also speak to each other in a way that is unmatched in the animal kingdom, their level of communication is far greater than apes for example. The new fascinating thing though is that we know how they can scheme and plan ahead. Don’t worry it’s not about taking over the world! Ravens always cook up plots to get better food.
At Lund University, two scientists have been researching ravens and seeing what they are capable of, their findings were recently published in the journal Science. Ornithologists already were well aware that they could plan ahead for their food needs because ravens had been studied hiding food caches and digging them up later. But even squirrels do this and they tend to forget where they hid their food, does not sound very clever, does it?
However, ravens are on an entirely different level, they do not forget where their food is hidden and even sometimes pretend to hide their food. This is because ravens are well aware other Ravens are watching them, waiting to swoop in and steal their food cache. Yet the study also revealed that ravens will often choose to skip a tasty piece of food now if it means they will be able to get better food later. When given the option of a treat and a tool that they knew could open a box that had better food in it, the raven would always choose the tool. This was even more incredible when the researchers made them wait over 15 minutes before having access to the box. Other studies have already shown that toddlers, for example, can not deal with waiting a few minutes for more sweets, they will choose to eat one sweet immediately. This means that ravens have more foresight than young humans! Will they soon be taking over the world?