Table of Contents

Volume 537 Number 7620 pp279-442

15 September 2016

About the cover

A Hawaiian crow using a stick tool to extract food from a wooden log. Birds in the crow family are renowned for their cognitive abilities. The New Caledonian crow Corvus moneduloides is well known for its ability to make and use foraging tools. Christian Rutz et al. show that it is not some lone outlier — it is now joined by another species from the Pacific, the Hawaiian crow Corvus hawaiiensis, better known by its indigenous Hawaiian name ‘Alalā. These birds naturally develop tool-using skills when young, and proficient tool use is a species-wide capacity. The authors can say this with confidence as the ‘Alalā is extinct in the wild, and they were able to test 104 of the 109 surviving members of the species at the time, all in captivity. The research suggests that the technological skills of tropical crows might be fostered by rather unusual ecological circumstances found on remote islands, such as reduced competition for embedded prey and low predation risk. The discovery of a second tool-using crow species opens up exciting opportunities for comparative studies on animal tool use. Cover photo: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Global

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