Crafty Crows, Tropical Islands, and the Mystery of Human Technological Evolution
Christian Rutz RI '20 probes the evolutionary origins of tool behaviour with an innovative research strategy. Rather than studying our primate cousins, he investigates tropical crows that have the curious habit of using foraging tools. His principal study species, the renowned New Caledonian crow, fashions complex tool designs from a variety of plant materials and may even refine its technology over time. Rutz recently discovered that the critically endangered Hawaiian crow is also a skilled tool user, opening up exciting opportunities for comparative research. At Radcliffe, Rutz is pursuing a range of interrelated objectives on the tool behaviour of New Caledonian and Hawaiian crows, exploring the biological processes that allow rudimentary technologies to arise, advance, and diversify.