Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 4:00pm
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Knafel Center, 10 Garden St., Cambridge

Radcliffe Institute Fellows' Presentation

Christian Rutz, Professor, University of St. Andrews, and current Grass Fellow, will present "Crafty Crows, Tropical Islands, and the Mystery of Human Technological Evolution." 

Rutz is a professor of biology at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland, where he leads a research group studying animal tool behavior. He combines observational, experimental, and theoretical approaches to address a major scientific puzzle: Why do so few animal species use tools, and how have humans become so technology savvy?

Rutz probes the evolutionary origins of tool behavior 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. In this lecture, Rutz will discuss his project examining tool behavior of crows in order to explore the biological processes that allow rudimentary technologies to arise, advance, and diversify.

Rutz obtained his doctorate as a Rhodes Scholar from the University of Oxford, was subsequently awarded a prestigious David Phillips Fellowships, and held visiting appointments at the Universities of Oxford, Tokyo, and New South Wales. His research is regularly published in leading interdisciplinary journals, including Nature and Science, has attracted a string of academic prizes, and has been showcased at major public science exhibitions. Rutz has pioneered cutting-edge wildlife tracking technologies and serves as the founding president of the International Bio-Logging Society.

The event is free and open to the public

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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