Ravens, much maligned in the popular imagination (thanks, Edgar Allan Poe) are far smarter than people imagine. For a start, the birds can also imagine. A new study suggests that ravens are capable of abstract thought and can imagine that they are being spied on (and will adapt their behavior accordingly). This comes in especially handy when hiding food. “We show that ravens Corvus corax take into account the visual access of others, even when they cannot see a conspecific,” write the study’s authors. In other words, just because you can’t see others looking at you doesn’t mean that there’s nobody there. The researchers conclude that “ravens can generalize from their own perceptual experience to infer the possibility of being seen.”
The findings are consistent with the so-called Theory of Mind (the ability to perceive things, events or states of being from someone else`s point of view), which thus far has only been observed in humans and apes. Corvus Corax, by the way, is the Latin name for the common raven. It is also a German Neo-Medieval band, responsible for such hits as “Sverker”, “Twilight of the Thunder God”, and of course, “Saltarello”, all of which you can enjoy on You Tube. Or you could just turn off the computer and read some Edgar Allan Poe instead.