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Crows can tell the difference between men and women

A series of experiments have revealed for the first time that crows have the ability to differentiate between photographs of male and female subjects. The study involved experiments conducted on four jungle crows, the type most commonly found in Japanese cities and often regarded as an urban nuisance due to their booming population.

After scientists showed the four crows a series of colour photographs of humans with their hair concealed, one pair was trained to pick men’s faces and the other pair women’s faces. As part of their training, each of the crows received pieces of cheese from the scientists when they chose the correct answer.

When the faces of other men and women were added and the positions of the faces shuffled, three of the four crows picked the correct faces with 100 per cent accuracy, and the fourth chose correctly seven times out of ten. The study was masterminded by Bezawork Afework, 32, a doctoral student from Ethiopia based at the United Graduate School of Agricultural Science at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and Utsonomiya University.

The findings are likely to be welcomed by city planners and environmentalists who are tasked with findings ways for crows and humans to live harmoniously in urban environments. Shoei Sugita, a professor at Utsonomiya University who has been dubbed the “crow professor” for his bird expertise, told the Mainichi newspaper: “If we utilise this trait, we may be able to think of ways to stop crows coming near us.”


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