Nature Blog readers know that ravens are smart, but in case you needed more evidence, this article from Der Spiegel suggests that they are even smart enough to play dead.
Their skills when it comes to tricking and cheating, for example, have not been thoroughly explored. Ravens are cunning enough to set up mock hiding places in order to distract their thievish fellows from their real food stores. They're generally very inventive when it comes to tricking those who would snatch away their food. But how much truth is there to reports according to which ravens play dead next to carcasses in order to simulate a case of food poisoning?
[Biologist Mareike] Stöwe's colleague Thomas Bugnyar hesitates to believe such reports: "Many animals play dead in stressful stituations," he says. "But when it comes to ravens, everyone always suspects some hidden intention." Bugnyar has been examining numerous winged wise guys, partly in collaboration with US ravenologist Bernd Heinrich. They found that corvus corax has plenty of surprises in store even under strictly controlled laboratory conditions.