A raven seen covering it’s food cache with the surrounding substrate. (Image credit: Jana Mueller).

Ravens possess the “Theory of Mind”, or the ability to predict the mental state of others, according to a new study. This is the first time the “Theory of Mind” has been confirmed in an animal other than humans or non-human primates.

The researchers fed individual ravens in an enclosed study area, while playing raven sounds through a small peep-hole in the wall. When the birds heard the taped ravens, they hid their food as if there was a competitor watching them.

The authors believe this indicates ravens can infer what a competitor may be able to see, without being able to see the competitor themselves.

Original research paper published in Nature Communications on February 2, 2015.

Names and affiliations of selected authors

Thomas Bugnyar, Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria