Template matching in tool manufacture by New Caledonian crows — ASN Events

Template matching in tool manufacture by New Caledonian crows (#241)

Sarah A Jelbert 1 , Alex H Taylor 1 , Russell D Gray 1
  1. University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

New Caledonian crows are an exceptional species of bird, capable of a range of sophisticated tool behaviours. They use and manufacture several different types of tool in the wild – including hooked stick tools and various types of barbed Pandanus tools – and can solve complex meta-tool problems in captivity. At present, it is unclear how juvenile New Caledonian crows learn to manufacture the complex types of tools that are present among some populations of crows but not others. To date, there is little evidence that New Caledonian crows are particularly adept social learners, or that they imitate the actions of conspecifics. If this is the case, then how can regional tool variation be explained? In this talk I will discuss a mechanism for high fidelity transmission without imitation. Specifically, that New Caledonian crows are capable of manufacturing tools by matching to a tool template. I will discuss very recent evidence that supports this theory, demonstrating that New Caledonian crows spontaneously manufacture paper objects to match previously experienced examples.