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More to crow about

There's a lot relevant to language evolution in the latest Current Biology. First up: crows. The First Word reports on Betty the New Caledonian crow who worked out how to build a hook so as to snare some hard-to-reach food. The most remarkable part of Betty's feat was that there was no trial and error, she just sized the problem up and went to work. The ability of New Caledonian crows to use common sense is confirmed by a recent experiment where a number of birds had to work out how to use a short stick to get a long stick that would then reach food. The researchers say that the crow's ability to reason through a problem rivals even that of apes. Current Biology, LiveScience.