Study reveals that the meanest birds are not the smartest

Australian magpies are amazing birds. They are highly intelligent birds that live in social groups that researchers describe as cooperative. Magpies even show altruism, which is extremely rare among animals. However, not all Australian magpies are kind to their fellow birds.

Intimidating friends is not a sign of intelligence. To understand why, researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) studied groups of a subspecies of Australian magpies called Gymnorhina tibicen dorsalis. They published their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, explaining how they observed that magpies who were attacked in a group were also the most intelligent. On the other hand, the most aggressive magpies were the ones who performed poorly on learning tests.

Could it be that meanness is a response to being too stupid to be kind? Does our intelligence come from the fact that humanity evolved from monkeys who were victims of bullying? Researchers claim they do not have evidence of this yet. The only thing they can affirm today is that being aggressive towards members of one’s group is not beneficial in the long run for magpies.