Rooks upstage chimps in understanding physics

October 7th, 2009 - 5:49 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Oct 7 (ANI): Rooks are cleverer than chimpanzees when it comes to understand the basic laws of physics, according to a new study.

Experts have found that they better grasp the principle of gravity by using reasoning than chimpanzees-one of man’s closest animal cousins.

In their experiments, they showed that the birds - which belong to the corvid family that includes crows, ravens and magpies - perceive the physical rules of support with the same degree of intelligence as a six-month-old baby.

When the rooks were shown an ‘egg-like’ object ‘floating’ in mid-air, they were surprised and looked longer at such pictures than those in which the egg was correctly supported by a platform.

They not only understood that contact between the egg and platform was necessary for support but also that there must be a sufficient amount of contact and that it must be from below.

Zoologist Christopher Bird and colleagues at the University of Cambridge said that such understanding was beyond the grasp of chimpanzees.

The birds were kept individually in chambers through which they could see a monitor showing a series of pictures, three of which featured a plastic Kinder egg and wooden platform and a fourth showing a bottle cork and a metal platform.

All four experiments demonstrated that the rooks looked significantly longer at a picture when the object was suspended in mid air - which defies the law of gravity.

“This was represented in all four experiments by a greater average look duration towards the impossible stimuli and by a greater total looking time towards the impossible stimuli,” the Telegraph quoted Bird as saying.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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