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Birds in the News is a weekly feature. Visit this page every Wednesday to view and read local, national and international newspaper articles that have been published in the past 7 days.
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22nd April 2016 Daily Mail
Ravens are as smart as CHIMPS despite having tiny brains
It is generally believed that larger brains make animals smarter, but the raven bucks this trend.
In a series of cognitive tests, ravens performed just as well as chimps, despite having significantly smaller brains.
The research was carried out at Lund University in Sweden by a team led by Can Kabadayi.
Kabadayi's team tested the intelligence of the birds using what's known as a 'cylinder task'. This tested the animals' level of self-control, said to be a key indicator of intelligence levels.
A total of five adult ravens, 10 adult New Caledonian crows and 10 adult jackdaws took part in the study.
Food was placed into an opaque cylinder with a hole in each end, in full view of the bird. The birds were also shown how to access the food inside the cylinder.
This original cylinder was removed and replace with an identical tube, with food once again placed inside.
The experts wanted to see whether the birds would use the holes in each end to retrieve the food, as they had been shown, or whether they would peck the outside of the tube in an attempt to access the treat.
Birds failed if they pecked at the tube, and scored highly for self-control if they used the cylinders' holes.
The results of the tests were then compared the results of a similar experiment carried out with chimps, and animal brain sizes were taken and listed.
Overall, ravens were the most successful and deemed the most intelligent with a score of 100 per cent - the same result as chimps.
21st April 2016 Daily Telegraph
Why birds don’t have teeth
If you have ever wondered why birds do not have teeth, science may finally have provided an answer.
A new hypothesis suggests that the ancestors of modern birds managed to survive the asteroid impact which finally wiped out the dinosaurs because they had beaks, and so could eat seed.
While meat-eating flying reptiles, like pterodactyls, struggled to find food following the catastrophic strike at the end of the Cretaceous Period, small bird-like dinosaurs rose to the top of the pecking order with their shell-cracking abilities.
The research, published in the journal Current Biology, suggests that some birds were able to survive the aftermath of the meteor impact by eating seeds.
The massive asteroid or comet strike would have temporarily altered the Earth's climate and blotted out the sun with dust.
Widespread vegetation loss would have robbed many plant-eating animals of their food source, and in turn large predators would have gone hungry.
But hardy seeds may have sustained the small toothless birds until the world began to recover.
"There were bird-like dinosaurs with teeth up until the end of the Cretaceous, where they all died off very abruptly," Derek Larson (University of Toronto) said.
"Some groups of beaked birds may have been able to survive the extinction event because they were able to eat seeds."