Ravens attribute visual access to unseen competitors.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Bugnyar, Thomas; Reber, Stephan A; Buckner, Cameron
Year of Publication: 2016
Journal: Nat Commun
Volume: 7
Pagination: 10506
Date Published: 2016
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 2041-1723

Recent studies purported to demonstrate that chimpanzees, monkeys and corvids possess a basic Theory of Mind, the ability to attribute mental states like seeing to others. However, these studies remain controversial because they share a common confound: the conspecific's line of gaze, which could serve as an associative cue. Here, we show that ravens Corvus corax take into account the visual access of others, even when they cannot see a conspecific. Specifically, we find that ravens guard their caches against discovery in response to the sounds of conspecifics when a peephole is open but not when it is closed. Our results suggest that ravens can generalize from their own perceptual experience to infer the possibility of being seen. These findings confirm and unite previous work, providing strong evidence that ravens are more than mere behaviour-readers.

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10506
Alternate Journal: Nat Commun