Convergent Evolution of Cognition in Corvids, Apes and Other Animals

Jayden O. Van Horik, Nicola S. Clayton and Nathan J. Emery

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199738182
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Convergent Evolution of Cognition in Corvids, Apes and Other Animals


Over the past 30 years, a cognitive renaissance has produced startling revelations about how species perceive their physical and social worlds. Once considered mere automata by Descartes, recent research supports claims that many animals possess advanced cognitive capacities (Shettleworth, 2010). Moreover, advanced cognition appears to have arisen across numerous species, many of which are distantly related, but which share a number of traits, such as large relative brain size, complex sociality and behavioral flexibility. Is the evolution of advanced cognition the result of a series of adaptive specializations driven by the shared selection pressures that species face in their environments? With our expanding awareness of cognitive processes across species, attributes such as causal reasoning, mental time travel or mental attribution, once thought unique to humans, invite careful reconsideration of their evolutionary origins.

Keywords: behavioral flexibility; convergent evolution; relative brain size; sociality; tool use

Article.  16174 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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