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Research

One of the great mysteries of biology is intelligence. Why does it evolve? What structure does it take? Can its evolution be predicted?

My research attempts to pinpoint how humans and other animals (including corvids and sharks) think, in order to understand how intelligence evolves. I am also highly interested in the evolution of religious and prosocial thought.

Our new study showing a limit to the cognition of New Caledonian crows is out. A nice summary of the research can be found here. We also made a video to describe this finding.

If you have ever wanted to get an overview of what we know about corvid intelligence, or were curious about why I study crows, my new review paper on corvid cognition should help.

Here is the BBC clip of 007 performing a rather long metatool experiment. We called him 007 because he always got the job done ;)

My PNAS paper on causal reasoning in New Caledonian crow is out here. Here is the explanation of this study on Youtube:

Here are two articles discussing this research at Science and 10000birds.com.

Publications

Taylor, A.H., Cheke L.G., Waismeyer A., Meltzoff A.N., Miller, R.,Gopnik, A., Clayton N.S., & Gray, R.D. 2014. Of babies and birds: complex tool behaviours are not sufficient for the evolution of the ability to create a novel causal intervention. Proc Roy Soc B. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.0837

Jelbert S., Taylor A.H., Cheke L., Clayton N., Gray R. 2014 Using the Aesop’s Fable Paradigm to Investigate Causal Understanding of Water Displacement by New Caledonian crows. PloS One. Download pdf

Taylor, A. H. Corvid Cognition WIREs Cogn Sci 2014. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1286 Download pdf.

Taylor, A. H., Miller, R., & Gray, R. D. (2013). Reply to Boogert et al.: The devil is unlikely to be in association or distraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences110 (4), E274-E274. Download pdf

Taylor, A. H., Miller, R., & Gray, R. D. (2013). Reply to Dymond et al.: Clear evidence of habituation counters counterbalancing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences110 (5), E337-E337. Download pdf

Taylor, A. H., Knaebe, B., & Gray, R. D. (2012). An end to insight? New Caledonian crows can spontaneously solve problems without planning their actions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B279 (1749), 4977-4981. doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.1998. Download pdf.

Taylor, A. H., Miller, R., & Gray, R. D. (2012). New Caledonian crows reason about hidden causal agents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences109 (40), 16389-16391. doi:10.1073/pnas.1208724109. Download pdf.

Taylor, A. H., & Clayton, N. S. (2012). Evidence from convergent evolution and causal reasoning suggests that conclusions on human uniqueness may be premature.Behavioral and Brain Sciences1, 39-40.

Taylor A.H., Elliffe E, Hunt, G.R., Emery N.J., Clayton N.S., Gray R.D. 2011 New Caledonian crows learn the functional properties of novel tool types PloS One 6 (12), e26887. Download pdf

Taylor, A.H., Hunt, G. & Gray R.D 2011 Context dependent tool use in New Caledonian crows. Biol Letts. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0782. Download pdf

Medina, F. S. Taylor, A.H., Hunt, G. & Gray R.D 2011 New Caledonian crows’ responses to mirrors Anim. Behav. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.07.033. Download pdf

Holzhaider, J.C, Sibley, M. D., Taylor, A.H., Singh, P. J., Gray, R.D.,  & Hunt, G.R. 2010 The social structure of New Caledonian crows. Anim. Behav. 81, 83-92. Download pdf

Taylor, A. H., Elliffe, D., Hunt, G. & Gray R.D 2010 Complex cognition and behavioural innovation in New Caledonian crows, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 277: 2637–2643. Download pdf

Taylor, A. H., Medina, F., Holzhaider, J.C., Hearne, L., Hunt, G.R. and Gray, R.D. (2010). An investigation into the cognition behind spontaneous string pulling in New Caledonian crows. PLoS One 5, e9345. Download pdf

Taylor, A. H. and Gray, R.D. (2009). Animal cognition: Aesop’s fable flies from fiction to fact. Current Biology 19, R731-R732. Download pdf

Taylor, A. H., Hunt, G. R., Roberts R. & Gray, R. D. 2009b Causal reasoning in New Caledonian crows: ruling out spatial analogies and sampling error. Comm. Integ. Biol. 2, 311-312. Download pdf

Taylor, A. H., Hunt, G. R., Medina, F. S. & Gray, R. D. 2009a Do New Caledonian crows solve physical problems through causal reasoning? Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 276, 247-254. Download pdf

Taylor, A. H.., Hunt, G. R., Holzhaider, J. C. & Gray, R. D. 2007 Spontaneous metatool use by New Caledonian crows. Curr. Biol. 17, 1504-1507. Download pdf

Past Press coverage:

Clever Crows, Complex Cognition?
Clever New Caledonian crows can use three tools
In praise of… the New Caledonian crow
Crows make monkeys out of chimps in mental test
Brainy crows finally stumped by intelligence test
Crows wield tools with human-like skill
Cleverest crows opt for two tools
Crows are the Einsteins of the animal world