Researchers at Ruhr University Bochum explain how it is possible for the small brains of pigeons, parrots and corvids to perform equally well as those of mammals, despite their significant differences.

Since the late 19th century, it has been a common belief among researchers that high intelligence requires the high computing capacity of large brains. They also discovered that the cerebral cortex as typical of mammals is necessary to analyze and link information in great detail.

Avian brains, by contrast, are very small and lack any structure resembling a cortex. Nevertheless, scientists showed that parrots and corvids are capable of planning for the future, forging social strategies, recognizing themselves in mirrors and building tools. These and similar aptitudes put them on a par with chimpanzees.