Friday, February 13, 2009

big bird brains

for National Geocorvid News
February 13, 2009

Crows survived the global catastrophe that wiped out their dinosaur relatives due to superior brainpower, a new study suggests.

The idea came from examining a pair of prehistoric corvids found in southeast England by Victorian-era fossil hunters, according to researchers from the Natural Aves Museum in London. The two 55-million-year-old skulls suggest the ancestors of modern Crows developed larger, more complex brains earlier than previously thought.

This implies that Crow ancestors had a mental edge over non-Crowlike dinos and flying reptiles, so they were better able to adapt after the so-called K-T mass extinction event around 65 million years ago, said study co-author Angela (Tweets) Budgerigar.

Some ancient groups of birds did go extinct, she noted, so it wasn't feathers or warm-bloodedness that gave modern Crows a leg up. "It had to be something else, " she said, "and it seems to be this bigger brain."

Prof Budgerigar and colleagues, Dr. Penguin, Dr. Robin, Dr. Sparrow and Dr. Hawk, used CT scans of the skulls to make models of the size and shape of the fossil Crows' brains. What they found is that the ancient Crow brains were almost the same size as those in Crows alive today.

(Related: "T. Rex, Other Dinosaurs Had Heads Full of Air" [December 12, 2008].)

"So after the K-T event", Dr. Swallow said, these birds "were just better equipped to deal with challenging physical conditions."


Not only do we remember Gondawanda Land but we were there when the inhabitants of Atlantis overextended themselves experimenting with the Earth's geomagnetic forces and you know what happened to them. Oh no, you don't know do you because they are not only gone but completely forgotten. Crows remember.

Ah well, it's about time to take a peanut break but before I ask susan to open a new can of Planter's I just thought I'd mention one thing. Have you considered Geithner's plan to stimulate the economy looks like a last ditch effort to shore up the banks using the Paulson plan?

'How much do you want?'
'How much have you got?'
'We're printing it as fast as we can.'
'That's still not enough. We want it all.'

When 'all' still isn't enough, after the D-M Event (dead money), Crow will still be around helping susan hunt for peanuts.

(Thanks and apologies to National Geographic)


  1. I will never look at crows the same way again. And I totally agree with Geithner and the banks. Adrianna Huffington wrote a very good blog post on just this subject at Huffington Post.

  2. lol... bloody brilliant, as my brit buds would say :P

  3. stimulation. i remember when it was something everyone wanted.
    and we always knew crows were special. so the studies aren't a surprise.
    maybe we should move towards a feather economy. organic growth is good, and the occasional molt will remind us that you can never have too many feathers.
    of course, in every society, there will be a few pluckers.
    that's a stimulating thought.

  4. this was fascinating about crows and it doesn't surprise me one bit...I have a few crows around here and they are so much smarter than the ever so average bird...

    I am not even going to talk about this money crap ....I am not watching the news or listening to it after I heard we need a train from disneyland to las vegas more than a million other things, like schools....sigh...

  5. Dear Crow,

    It doesn't take a study to convince me. I always knew you were brilliant.

    And about Mr. Geithner's plan. I hate to say it but MY bird brain is amused by the little scenes that go off in my brain from time to time: all these mad hatters running around trying to make more money for the economy. I don't fully understand it.

    "It would be so nice if something made sense for a change."

  6. "This is nothing but bird-brained propaganda!"

    - Mr. Sore O'Pod

    I hope those peanuts post D-M won't be tainted.

  7. I love your blog and all the interesting things that I learn here, I have given you an award that you can view on my blog. Happy Valentine's Day!

  8. lol - There have been excellent articles about this including from Paul Krugman and Wm Greider. There's a cold blooded calculation going on to keep pumping money in for another 6-12 months and only nationalize when things are so much worse that Americans start flipping out en mass.

    l.wolf - High praise from you :-)

    sera - Has anyone ever told you you're an extremely sharp cookie? Feather more we are together.

    linda - 'a train from disneyland to las vegas' ??? wtf? Things are obviously even worse than I knew.

    pagan sphinx - Yeah, how do you reinflate one of those balloons that's got saggy bits as well as huge holes?

    randal - We'll just have to mutate as fast as we can. After all, I think Mr. Sor O Pod, is a pseudonym for Hank Paulson.. gone but not far enough.

    lol - Thank you so much. I'll be by :-)

  9. You big brained fabulous one!

    I'm paying close attention to Paul Krugman. Geitner needs to learn to talk. Obama needs to keeping talking to us. And the Justice Department needs to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Dubya's crimes.

  10. I enjoy your postings about crows. Have you visited

    Lots of good crow info and crow humor there.

  11. I'm trying to recall if i've ever seen a sharp cookie.
    i've experienced cookies baked hard as a rock, maybe. i suppose, with the right tool, one could hone an edge on a snickerdoodle.
    it's still a curious expression.
    rather like: that's the way a cookie crumbles.
    versus: one tough cookie.
    I bet Crow would know.

  12. oh! i almost forgot the whole reason i visited tonight!
    happy valentines day, susan!

  13. The crows we have out here eat the cat food we put out. The blue jays like cat food too.

  14. utah - Wm Greider described Geithner as the smartest kid in third grade.. someone who was always an overachiever performing for the powerful. When such people attain high positions their lack of creative ability and compassion becomes apparent.

    crow - No, but now you've told me about it perhaps I shall.

    sera - Crow says sharp cookies should be dipped in milk or sweet cocoa. He is a smart bird.

    lib - Crow has more epicurean tastes than the average crow.

  15. Those intelligent crows probably date back to the first evolutionary branch of ancestral birds; maybe 150 million years ago. A wise crow croaks, ‘one swallow doth not make a summer’! And so it is for both TARP and the stimulus packages. Timothy is trying to simultaneously clear the balance of toxic debt securities and enhance the operation of ailing restrictive credit markets by setting up a private/ government partnership but won’t be drawn on what or how acquisition costs or values are to be determined.

    Hopefully we will soon see an improved centralized regulatory authority as promised during the campaign, to facilitate coherent policy in contrast to the prior vacuum of neo liberal ideology reliant on unregulated markets to solve social ills for equity – despite the reverse more often to be true.

    But it’s also only early days.

    We have no doctrinaire political philosophy. Where government action on control has seemed to us to be the best answer to a practical problem, we have adopted that answer at the risk of being called socialists- Quote from Sir Robert Menzies – Founder in 1946 of the Liberal Party and Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister from 24 June 1939 to 29 August 1941 and from 1949 to 1966.
    Best wishes

  16. Crow... let's hope your brain is big enough to remember the day when all the money's gone save for a cannister of peanuts. I have no doubt you will.

  17. I was particularly enlightened by the "labyrinth" structure in corvid brains. This explains a lot.

  18. I'm going to pay more attention to your cousins as they mill about the yard, appearing to be plotting, discussing, considering.

  19. Hi, again Susan and Crow. I gave you both an award. As always with such things from TPS, there is no obligation, only goodwill and spreading the love around. :-)

  20. I didn't need National Geographic to tell me that Crows are brilliant. I knew that!! Um, did they mention anything about weasels?;-)

  21. lindsay - I'll keep my fingers crossed but so far it appears our new government isn't being as proactive as I'd hoped. The six largest banks in this country are effectively bankrupt and should be taken over by an experienced agency like the FDIC. As Senator Bernie Sanders said, 'A bank that's too big to fail is too big to exist'.

    spartacus - He said he'd save some for you too :-)

    steve - Mutually labyrinthine thought processes are what brought us together.

    lisa - They've already managed to get us to build them giant air conditioned aviaries in the form of empty and half finished buildings around the country. Who knows what's next?

    pagan - That was so kind of you and I appreciate you thinking of me :-) I'll be by soon.

    belette - I've heard rumors there'll soon be as issue devoted to the theory weasels are the ancestral progenitors of all great writers and artists. We've all heard of Wm Shakesweasel, haven't we?

  22. Susan: Did I tell you how much I love crows and you and how you always make me smile and laugh. Bien sur I have heard of William Shakesweasel. Are there people who haven't?;-) It is so nice when science catches up to what we all know to be true. You have made my day with "the theory weasels are the ancestral progenitors of all great writers and artists.":-)

  23. To be fair to the new administration, they are struggling with the enormity of the problem and admit they don’t have the detailed answers.

    At least the proposals, (albeit in concept form only) are much better than recent bizarre ideas floated about forming a ‘bad bank’ or an ‘aggregator bank’ to buy up toxic assets to be managed by the FDIC, or to try to insure toxic assets.

    Whilst I think you are probably right about a need ultimately for nationalization due to the larger banks insolvency I doubt very much the FIDC has sufficient adequate resources or the regulatory expertise to undertake effectively such a mamoth proposal with any degre of effectiveness.

    However I also hope the details and affirmative action proposed soon emerge more positively - in line with the stimulus package. Best wishes

  24. belette - Crow asked me to remind you that he is ever grateful to Weasel for pulling him from the icy current.

    lindsay - I apologize for sounding negative but I'm very concerned about them planning to attempt a return to the way things were. As it is they're using the same strategy Japan used at the beginning of the 90's when they turned their banks into zombie institutions and lost ten years worth of recovery time. The FDIC handled the S&L disaster quite well and even though this really is unprecedented so far as size is concerned I'm sure there's enough talent and experience in government able to manage what must be done.

    I admit I'm no economist but I've paid special attention to Nouriel Roubini, Yves Smith, Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Paul Krugman. What they say has rung true with what I've been seeing and hearing. At the end of last week there were rumors about 'reforming' Social Security by our new administration and I remember well what happened when Clinton reformed Welfare during better economic times. I'm frightened.

    Thanks for coming back to visit. All the best.

  25. well, ok. as a group, they're pretty amazing. but d'ya think you could ask crow to put a bug in the ear of his cousins in waynorth? the !#%* trash collectors toss our garbage can lids any which way when they dump the cans, and, being a windy part of the world, the resulting desertion of the lids is predictable to all but a (pardon my language) bird-brain. in fact, that's quite a misnomer, cuz the crows are not at all ignorant of the consequences, and gleefully spread the contents of the now lidless cans artistically all over my yard.