Chimps, pigs, and octopuses are often cited as some of the most intelligent animals in popular culture, but did you know that crows -- eerie, Hitchcock-esque crows -- are also considered one of the brightest species? According to Alex Taylor, a crow intelligence researcher at Auckland University, we might be wrong to rank apes number one in terms of animal cognition; crows are actually better problem solvers.
"Humans love to try to rank animals on intelligence, but from an evolutionary perspective each species has a mind that is sufficiently intelligent to come with the challenges faced by its lifestyle," Taylor said. "But, to play the game, crows generally perform in very similar way to primates." They don't perform similarly in all respects, though: Taylor's research has shown that crows -- specifically, New Caledonian crows -- are capable of complex causal reasoning, an important mental ability that allows them to find, create, and use tools to solve problems; the birds are the only non-human animals that have demonstrated this ability.