Researchers at the University of Iowa, having previously established that crows and ravens are able to understand analogical thinking, have taken their findings a step further with the discovery that crows are able to comprehend and participate in transphobic humour, such as the popular “attack helicopter” joke.
A hooded crow named Tim was first trained to identify items by colour, shape and number, in what is known as “identity matching-to-sample” (IMTS). Tim was placed in a wire mesh cage with a plastic tray containing three cards and two cups, with the middle card serving as the sample. Each cup was then covered with another card: one matching the sample (either in colour, shape, or number of items), and one not. The cup with the card matching the sample card contained a tasty treat. Tim was able to consistently, and without hesitation, select the card matching the sample and receive its well-earned reward of two mealworms.
For the second part of the experiment, the sample card was switched to display two different objects, with the cards on each cup displaying a matching pair and another two different objects respectively. In a development that stunned the researchers, Tim was able to spontaneously exhibit, without ever having been trained to do so, an understanding of the relational sameness or difference between the sample card, and the card on the cup containing the reward.
Thirdly, and finally, the sample card was changed to one featuring adult human female Hadley Freeman, and Laverne Cox, who “identifies” as a woman. Tim was given the choice between matching the sample to an identical card positioning both people as possessing an inherent sameness, and a card satirically juxtaposing an image of legendary actor Brian Blessed with an illustration of a helicopter. Not only did Tim correctly select the latter card at every opportunity, it also emitted a sound usually only heard from the eastern Australian Kookaburra, known for its resemblance to mocking human laughter.
You can follow the University of Iowa’s ongoing research on their official Youtube channel, or keep up to date with Tim’s thoughts on gender woo at corvid19.substack.com.