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烏鴉可能是除靈長類外最聰明的動物

  The crow’s name was Betty.And she was on her way to stardom.A gaggle of Oxford University scientists watched in wonder as she casually picked up a piece of wire in her cage and then used a nearby object to bend it at one end,transforming the wire into a hooked tool.That tool allowed Betty to hoist up a small container of meat–delicious pig’s heart–from inside a plastic tube.Lunch was served.

  這只烏鴉的名字叫貝蒂。她這次表演使她名揚天下。一群牛津大學的科學家驚奇地看著她隨意抓起籠子里的一根鐵絲,然后用附近的一個物體把鐵絲的一端弄彎曲,把這只鐵絲做成了一個鉤子。最后貝蒂用這個鉤子從一個塑料管中掏出一小包肉——美味的豬心,於是開餐享用她的午飯。

  Crows could be the smartest animal other than primates

  烏鴉可能是除靈長類外最聰明的動物

  Back then,in 2002,Betty’s feat was a source of amazement.How did this crow solve such a complex problem so spontaneously?It suggested mental acrobatics akin to our own.This,the headlines read,was one stunningly clever crow.

  我們再講回2002年貝蒂那次的驚人表演。這只烏鴉是如何隨機應變地解決如此復雜的問題?其驚人之舉似乎意味這只烏鴉的精神活動與我們人類相近似。當時媒體的新聞標題即稱之為“聰明絕頂的烏鴉”。

  烏鴉顯示有能力解決其在大自然中不會遭遇到的高級難題。

  Except that Betty was not quite as special as some first thought.Many years later,research showed that New Caledonian crows are habitual tool-benders.In the wild,they do it all the time.Observers had initially been startled by Betty’s behaviour because it looked as though she had come up with the design for her hooked tool on the fly.Like an engineer inventing a new machine.In reality,New Caledonians have evolved to make hooked tools from soft twigs as part of their usual foraging activity.

  只是后來人們發現貝蒂并不像最初想象的是一只特殊的烏鴉。許多年后,研究發現新喀里多尼亞烏鴉都習慣弄彎樹枝做鉤子。這種烏鴉在野外經常這樣幹。一開始,觀察者被貝蒂的行為嚇了一大跳,因為看起來她的工具鉤子好像是她獨自設計想出來的,其行為就像一個人類工程師發明了一種新機器一樣。事實上,新喀里多尼亞烏鴉用柔軟的小樹枝制作鉤形工具是這個物種進化衍生出來的天性,是它們日常覓食行為的一種本能。

  It was less a moment of genius–and more an expression of her nature.

  與其說這是一個天才烏鴉的表演,不如說這是貝蒂覓食的天然本性。

  “I don’t want to downplay her cognitive abilities,”says Christian Rutz at the University of St Andrews.“At the very least,it forces us to reassess how insightful Betty’s behaviour was.”

  圣安德魯斯大學的克里斯蒂安·魯茲說,“我不想貶低貝蒂的智力。至少,這可以迫使我們重新評估貝蒂的行為有多么聰明。”

  New Caledonian crows belong to the corvid family of birds–as do jackdaws,rooks,jays,magpies and ravens.In recent years,the brains of these birds have been studied ever more closely.There is no doubt that some of them display impressive cognitive abilities.But intelligence is a murky subject.What exactly is it,in the first place?And why has it evolved?

  新喀里多尼亞烏鴉是屬于鴉科的一種鳥。屬于鴉科的還有寒鴉、白嘴鴉、松鴉、喜鵲和渡鴉等。近年來,對鴉科鳥類大腦的研究越來越深入。毫無疑問,鴉科中某些類烏鴉的確表現出令人印象深刻的智力行為。但智力是一個含義模糊不清的題目。首先,所謂的鴉科鳥類的智力到底是什么?其次,為什么這種鳥類會進化出智力?

  Corvids are helping us to answer these questions.

  鴉科鳥類正在幫助我們回答這些問題。

  Intelligence is rooted in the brain.Clever primates–including humans–have a particular structure in their brains called the neocortex.It is thought that this helps to make advanced cognition possible.Corvids,notably,do not have this structure.They have instead evolved densely packed clusters of neurons that afford them similar mental prowess.

  智力來自于大腦。聰明的靈長類動物,包括人類,在大腦中有一種特殊的結構,叫做新皮層。人們認為就是新皮層使得高級智慧成為可能。顯然,鴉科鳥類沒有這種結構,而是進化出密集的神經元簇。正是這種神經系統賦予鴉科鳥類類似的智力。

  The specific kind of brain they have doesn’t really matter–corvids and primates share some of the same basic capabilities in terms of problem-solving and plasticity,or being able to adapt and change in the face of new information and experiences.This is an example of convergent evolution,where completely different evolutionary histories have led to the same feature or behaviour.

  大腦結構的具體類型并不重要,鴉科動物和靈長類動物在解決問題和隨機應變方面有一些相同的基本能力,在面臨新信息和新狀況時能作出適應的改變。這是趨同進化的一個例子。所謂趨同進化是指這樣一種進化現象,即完全不同的物種,因處于相同的生態而進化出相同的特征或行為。

  It’s easy for humans to see why the things corvids can do are useful.From identifying people who have previously posed a threat to them or others in their group to using gestures for communication–we too rely on abilities like these.<紐約時報中英文網 http://www.738231.buzz/>

  人類很容易明白為什么鴉科鳥類的智力行為于其生存是有用的,比如烏鴉能識別曾經對它們構成威脅的人類或它們群體的其他烏鴉,以及能使用身體姿勢進行溝通交流等,因為我們人類也要依賴這些能力。

  Rutz is unequivocal.Some birds,like the New Caledonian crows he studies–can do remarkable things.In a paper published earlier this year,he and his co-authors described how New Caledonians seek out a specific type of plant stem from which to make their hooked tools.Experiments showed that crows found the stems they desired even when they had been disguised with leaves from a different plant species.This suggested that the birds were selecting a kind of material for their tools that they knew was just right for the job.You wouldn’t use a spanner to hammer in a nail,would you?

  魯茲的研究很明確。有些鳥類,比如他所研究的新喀里多尼亞烏鴉,可以做出不同尋常的事情。在今年早些時候發表的一篇論文中,他和他的合著者描述了新喀里多尼亞烏鴉如何尋找一種特殊類型的植物莖干來制造他們的鉤形工具。實驗表明,烏鴉能找到它們想要的莖干,即使這些莖干被其他不同植物的葉子遮住。這說明,新喀里多尼亞烏鴉選擇某種材料做鉤子時,知道這種材料最適合做這項工作。就像人類,你不會用扳手去敲釘子吧?

  In the wild,New Caledonians use their tools to scoop insects out of holes,for example in tree trunks.Footage of this behaviour has been caught on camera.

  新喀里多尼亞烏鴉在野外用它們的工具把昆蟲從洞里挖出來,例如樹干上的洞。這種行為的視頻已經被科學家用攝像機錄了下來。

  You might think that some animals are smarter than others–with humans at the top of the proverbial tree.Certainly,humans do rely excessively on intelligence to get by.But that doesn’t mean we’re the best at every mental task.Chimps,notes Dakota McCoy at Harvard University,have been shown to possess better short-term memories than humans.This might help them to memorise where food is located in the forest canopy,for example.

  你可能會認為有些動物比其他動物聰明,而人類則位居這顆智力樹的頂端。當然,人類確實過度依賴智力來生存。但這并不意味著人類在所有的腦力工作上都是最好的。哈佛大學的達科塔·麥考伊指出,黑猩猩已經被證明比人類擁有更好的短期記憶力。例如,這可能有助于黑猩猩記住食物在森林樹冠層的位置。

  Ranking the intelligence of animals seems an increasingly pointless exercise when one considers the really important thing:how well that animal is adapted to its niche.Intelligence is,first and foremost,a means towards specialisation.

  如我們考慮到對物種最重要的能力是這一物種適應其生存環境的能力,那么,對動物的智力高低進行排序就是無意義之舉。因為智力首先是物種為適應生存而演化出特定功能的手段。

  As Rutz says,analysis of crows’intelligence“cannot be divorced from the natural history of the animal”.And New Caledonians are far from the only non-human species to have evolved the ability to use tools.The list of other animals that share this trait includes chimpanzees,parrots,alligators and even crabs.

  正如魯茲所說,對烏鴉智力的分析“不能脫離動物的自然演化史”。新喀里多尼亞烏鴉遠非唯一進化出使用工具能力的非人類物種。其他具有這種特征的動物還有黑猩猩、鸚鵡、短吻鱷,甚至螃蟹。

  While cognition may help a creature to do things required for survival in its own environment,other animals get by via other means.Where a crow uses mental abilities and tools to access hard-to-reach food,a giraffe simply stretches its long neck.Clever cogs just have another tool from evolution’s own toolbox.

  雖然智力可以讓一種物種做出適應環境的行為以助其生存,但其他動物通過其他方式一樣獲得生存之道。烏鴉利用腦力和工具來獲取難以夠到的食物,而對于長頸鹿,只需要伸展它的長脖子就夠了。聰明的家伙烏鴉只是多了一個進化工具箱里的工具。<-->紐約時報中英文網 http://www.738231.buzz<-->

  That said,“clever”animals can sometimes perform tasks beyond those strictly demanded by nature.

  也就是說,聰明的動物有時能超額完成自然嚴格要求的任務。

  為什么烏鴉可能是除靈長類外最聰明的動物

  In this clip from the BBC TV series,Inside the Animal Mind,Chris Packham watches a New Caledonian,nicknamed 007,solve an artificially constructed puzzle involving eight distinct steps.

  在這段英國廣播公司紀錄片《動物會思考嗎》(Inside the Animal Mind)的片段中,克里斯·帕克漢姆(Chris Packham)觀看了一個綽號007的新喀里多尼亞烏鴉如何解決一個人工構建,有八個步驟的謎題。

  This seems to dwarf Betty’s humble hooked tool demo.A crow has now been shown to apply its cognitive abilities to advanced problem solving.It’s a situation the bird would never encounter in the wild,but it excels all the same.True,007 had already learned how the individual steps worked but solving them in sequence presents an even greater challenge.It’s a hint that this bird can plan ahead to some extent.There are likely many other fascinating things that 007 and his fellow crows can do,we just haven’t tested for them yet.

  這個解謎過程似乎使貝蒂簡陋的鉤形工具演示相形見絀。這已證明烏鴉可以將其認知能力用于解決高級問題。謎題情景是這只烏鴉在野外永遠不會遇到的,但它仍然很出色地解開了謎題。誠然,這八個步驟的每個單獨步驟007早已經學會,但如要解決謎題必須按順序一步一步來,這是更大的挑戰。這暗示這只烏鴉可能在某種程度上已事前做了計劃。007和它的烏鴉同胞或許還能做很多其他有趣的事情,只是我們還沒有進行測試而已。

  McCoy,like Rutz,also studies New Caledonian crows.In a paper published this year,she and colleagues described an experiment designed to show if the birds’mood were affected by tool use.New Caledonians were trained to recognise that a box at one end of a table contained more food than a box at the opposite end.Then,the crows were presented with a box in the middle of the table–suggesting an uncertain quantity of meat inside.

  麥克可伊(McCoy)和魯茲一樣,也在研究新喀里多尼亞烏鴉。在今年發表的一篇論文中,她和同事描述了一項實驗,該實驗旨在顯示這種烏鴉的情緒是否受到工具使用的影響。新喀里多尼亞烏鴉經過訓練后認識到,桌子一端的盒子里裝的食物比桌子另一端盒子里的多。然后,麥克可伊在桌子中間給烏鴉放了一個盒子,并暗示這個盒子中有數量不確定的肉。

  Birds that had recently used tools to retrieve food from a container approached the mystery box more quickly than those that had not used tools.This indicated that tool use made the crows more optimistic,says McCoy.

  實驗結果發現,最近使用過工具從盒子中取出食物的烏鴉比那些沒有使用過工具的烏鴉更快地接近這個神秘的盒子。麥克可伊說,這表明使用工具使烏鴉對能夠獲取到食物的期望比較樂觀。

  That’s not to say they were necessarily“happy”,she adds–but it does suggest a positive relationship between tool use and expectation.

  她補充說,這并不是說他們一定是快樂的,但確實表明工具使用和期望值之間有正面的聯系。

  Cognition,says McCoy,can be fun.It opens a door to behaviour that isn’t necessarily essential for survival.

  麥克可伊說,智力可以是有趣的。它打開了一扇門,讓那些不一定對生存至關重要的行為得以存在。

  Crows,in fact,might be like us not so much because they are clever(and so are we)but rather because they sometimes engage their cleverness simply for fun–and so do we.

  事實上,烏鴉之所以像我們人類,并不是因為它們聰明,我們人類也一樣,而是因為烏鴉有時運用其智慧只是為了好玩,而我們也是一樣。

  The crows McCoy studies have a natural curiosity,she says.They cheekily grab scientific equipment and fly off with it in the aviary.Young birds especially,she says,love to play.Humans are not so different,she argues:“We have these incredibly huge brains but we use them to do crossword puzzles–that’s not something that is evolutionarily selected for.”

  麥克可伊說,她研究的烏鴉有一種天生的好奇心。他們會在鳥舍中,很頑皮地抓起科研設備飛走。她說,幼鳥尤其喜歡玩耍,這與人類沒有那么不同。她指出,“我們人類有難以置信的巨大大腦,但我們常用這樣的大腦來做填字游戲,這不是進化所選擇的功能。”

  One could argue that there are utilitarian benefits to such mental exertion.It keeps the mind sharp,it reinforces one’s abilities–all the fitter to survive.But if there is pleasure in it or if it has unexpected effects,one might also say that such activity is just part of what makes life colourful.New Caledonian crows,like us and other clever animals,have moods and memories.Strategies and expectations.They seem remarkably able to engage with complexity.

  有人可能會說,這種腦力勞動自有其功能,可使頭腦保持敏銳,增強一個人的能力,而所有這些都有利于生存。但是,如果此種腦力活動會產生樂趣或有意想不到的效果,人們也可能會說,這樣的腦力活動只是讓我們的生活變得豐富多彩的一部分。新喀里多尼亞烏鴉,像我們人類和其他聰明的動物一樣,有情緒和記憶,有策略和期望。它們似乎非常善于處理復雜的事情。

  Evolution made this possible.But cognition,like life itself,serves more than just a need.Animal intelligence allows all sorts of fascinating phenomena to arise.A gorilla that recognises human language.A crow that solves puzzles.A parrot that tells jokes.

  進化使這成為可能。但是智力,就像生命本身一樣,不僅僅是一種需要。動物的智力使各種迷人的現象得以出現。有能識別人類語言的大猩猩。有能解謎題的烏鴉。也有會講笑話的鸚鵡。

  Nature provided the notes,but animal brains make the music.The mind,as they say,is the only limit.

  大自然提供了音符,是動物的大腦用這些音符制造了音樂。正如人們愛所說的,人類的心智才是唯一的極限。

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