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Proc Biol Sci. 2008 Jun 22;275(1641):1421-9. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0111.

Cooperative problem solving in rooks (Corvus frugilegus).

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Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.


Recent work has shown that captive rooks, like chimpanzees and other primates, develop cooperative alliances with their conspecifics. Furthermore, the pressures hypothesized to have favoured social intelligence in primates also apply to corvids. We tested cooperative problem-solving in rooks to compare their performance and cognition with primates. Without training, eight rooks quickly solved a problem in which two individuals had to pull both ends of a string simultaneously in order to pull in a food platform. Similar to chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys, performance was better when within-dyad tolerance levels were higher. In contrast to chimpanzees, rooks did not delay acting on the apparatus while their partner gained access to the test room. Furthermore, given a choice between an apparatus that could be operated individually over one that required the action of two individuals, four out of six individuals showed no preference. These results may indicate that cooperation in chimpanzees is underpinned by more complex cognitive processes than that in rooks. Such a difference may arise from the fact that while both chimpanzees and rooks form cooperative alliances, chimpanzees, but not rooks, live in a variable social network made up of competitive and cooperative relationships.

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