Date of this Version
PNAS (March 5, 2013), vol. 110, no. 10, pp 3719–3720. doi 10.1073/pnas.1300515110
The cognitive abilities of animals continue to fascinate both scientists and nonscientists. Although the abilities of the primates, our closest living relatives, generally attract most interest, several different lines of research have demonstrated high levels of intellectual capacity in birds, particularly corvids. The members of this family are known for their large brains and have performed well in many cognitive tasks using different paradigms (1–3). This finding has led to substantial revision of thinking about avian intelligence, including the suggestion of convergence in the evolution of cognitive abilities between corvids and primates (4). In PNAS, Ostojić et al. (5) add significantly to this literature with a very elegant experiment demonstrating the ability of male European jays (Garrulus glandarius) to predict the feeding preferences of their mates. The study is significant for many reasons: it demonstrates a high and unexpected level of flexibility, reports results bearing strong resemblance to human stateattribution and further confirms the importance of studying cooperative as well as competitive situations.