While all corvids have impressive cognitive abilities, New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) are among the few nonhuman species that use tools for foraging. Moreover, they appear to have a range of morphological, neurological, behavioral and cognitive adaptations underpinning their tool-using lifestyle. The species is therefore a perfect model to study the genomic basis of evolution of complex cognition.
This research aims at testing whether the evolution of complex cognition is associated with changes in just a few crucial genes or numerous changes across multiple functional domains of the genome.
Cutting-edge NGS approaches will be used to compare multiple non-tool using crows and New Caledonian crow genomes to identify genes strongly influence by natural selection and likely linked to complex cognition.
Collaborators: Dr. Jochen Wolf (Uppsala University), Dr. Gavin Hunt (University of Auckland), Dr. Christian Rutz and Dr. Mike Ritchie (St. Andrews University), and Prof. Russel Grey (Max Plank Institute for the Science of Human History).