For the Evolution of Smarts, Parents Matter

“Both humans and corvids spend their youth learning vital skills, surrounded by tolerant adults which support their long learning process,” says lead author Natalie Uomini, from the Max Planck Institute. “Moreover, corvids and humans have the ability for lifelong learning — a flexible kind of intelligence which allows individuals to adapt to changing environments throughout their lifetime.” The authors suggest that prolonged, tolerant parenting creates a safe haven for children to learn important life skills, in turn increasing brain size and survival — conditions that our ancestors also enjoyed. They conclude that “extended family life is crucial to provide the social learning opportunities where juveniles acquire vital skills,” in turn facilitating “the evolution of flexible and expanded cognitive skillsets across species.”

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