Crows Can Count Out Loud: How Do Other Animals Count?

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.30 - 2024 11:24 AM CET

Animals
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
But did you know that crows can do something similar?

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Humans are quite advanced when it comes to using numerical numbers. We can count in our heads and out loud: 1, 2, 3, 4.

But did you know that crows can do something similar?

Researchers have discovered that crows can learn to count from one to four, much like a toddler. This finding, published in the journal Science, comes from a study conducted by the University of Tübingen.

Previous studies have shown that animals such as bees, lions, frogs, and ants have the ability to count. However, this new study is the first to demonstrate that animals can count using sound.

The researchers trained three crows using visual cues and sounds, each associated with a number from one to four. The crows then learned to make a specific number of cries based on the picture or sound presented by the researchers.

For instance, when shown the number three, a crow would respond with three cries: "Kraaa, kraaa, kraaa!"

This ability to produce a set number of vocalizations deliberately indicates a sophisticated combination of numerical understanding and vocal control.

"Producing a certain number of vocalizations on purpose requires a sophisticated combination of numerical abilities and voice control," the researchers noted in the study.

"Our results show that humans are not the only ones who can do this. In principle, it also opens up sophisticated communication among crows," elaborates Professor Andreas Nieder from the University of Tübingen.

How Do Other Animals Count?

While crows have shown they can count out loud, other animals use different methods to count:

Monkeys: Monkeys have been observed using visual and tactile methods to count. They can distinguish between different quantities of objects and even perform basic arithmetic tasks.

Snakes: Although not typically known for counting, some snakes, like pit vipers, use their heat-sensing abilities to detect the presence of prey, which can be thought of as a primitive form of counting.

Bees: Bees can count landmarks as they navigate to their hives. They use this ability to remember the number of turns or flowers they visit.

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