Longer childhoods help young birds become more intelligent, study finds

Study of corvid populations highlights ‘vital role’ parents play in allowing young minds to develop

Harry Cockburn
Tuesday 02 June 2020 01:20
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Carrion crow. Scientists tracked two species of corvid to find out how their chick-rearing techniques affected their success
Carrion crow. Scientists tracked two species of corvid to find out how their chick-rearing techniques affected their success

Even among primates, humans’ lengthy “extended childhood” is unusual. But could it be the key to the success of our species?

Scientists have long believed the years of childhood and adolescence, in which parents provide and care for their offspring, and give us the time and opportunity to explore, create and learn, allows us to learn complicated skills we otherwise would not be able to develop.

Across the animal kingdom, such extended childhoods are not common. But there are other species who take longer to reach maturity, including elephants, dolphins, whales, some bats, and a few species of birds, notably corvids – the crow family.

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