Research highlight

Ravens show and offer language skills

Nature Communications

November 30, 2011

Ravens use gestures like showing and offering to direct other raven’s attention finds a study in Nature Communications this week. This is another example of referential gesturing — thought to form the foundation of language skills — in a non-primate lineage. Human children are known to use referential gestures such as showing, offering and pointing around the age of one year. Simone Pika and colleagues filmed social interactions between raven (Corvus corax) dyads in the Northern Alps in Austria. They observed the ravens showing moss and twigs to others, directing the observer’s attention and orientation to the object. This suggests that the use of referential gestures is not restricted to the primate lineage.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1567

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