Anyone who has ever had a run-in with a crow knows that they are quite intelligent. But a new study released in Science proves that they may be even smarter than we think. According to researchers, crows and other corvids possess primary consciousness—something that, until now, only humans and some primates were thought to have.
Crows have already proven themselves to be great problem solvers and can get quite creative, but this new discovery could change the way we think about the evolution of animals. So what exactly is primary consciousness? Also known as sensory consciousness, it’s a term that refers to the ability to put together memories and observed events to cultivate an awareness of the present and immediate past. For instance, as a child, we may have put our hand near a flame and gotten burned. Remembering this painful feeling taught us not to repeat the same action the next time the opportunity presented itself.
How did the researchers measure the cognitive abilities of crows? They worked with two carrion crows and trained them to signal whether or not they saw a coloured marker on a screen by moving their heads. Unequivocally throughout the tests, the crows showed that they could reliably signal whether or not the colored markers appeared. At some moments during the test, the markers were so faint that they were barely perceptible. In these cases, sometimes the crows still signalled the marker and in others, they did not. That’s where their subjective perception came into play — via My Modern Met