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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2017

Authors: Lambert, ML; Schiestl, M; Schwing, R; Taylor, AH; Gajdon, GK; Slocombe, KE; Seed, AM

Title: Function and flexibility of object exploration in kea and New Caledonian crows.

Source: R Soc Open Sci. 2017; 4(9):170652



Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Gajdon Gyula
Schwing Raoul

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition


Dryad Logo Data are deposited in Dryad | DataLink: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.dq04j


Abstract:
A range of non-human animals frequently manipulate and explore objects in their environment, which may enable them to learn about physical properties and potentially form more abstract concepts of properties such as weight and rigidity. Whether animals can apply the information learned during their exploration to solve novel problems, however, and whether they actually change their exploratory behaviour to seek functional information about objects have not been fully explored. We allowed kea (Nestor notabilis) and New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) to explore sets of novel objects both before and after encountering a task in which some of the objects could function as tools. Following this, subjects were given test trials in which they could choose among the objects they had explored to solve a tool-use task. Several individuals from both species performed above chance on these test trials, and only did so after exploring the objects, compared with a control experiment with no prior exploration phase. These results suggest that selection of functional tools may be guided by information acquired during exploration. Neither kea nor crows changed the duration or quality of their exploration after learning that the objects had a functional relevance, suggesting that birds do not adjust their behaviour to explicitly seek this information.


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