Underdogs of the Animal World: Raven
Ravens have a pretty bad rep, but after this article, nevermore. Yes, I went there. No, I don’t regret it.
People have had some pretty odd beliefs about ravens in the past, and some of those beliefs are still hanging around today. For example, in Norse Mythology, Odin, father of the gods, had two ravens called Huginn and Muninn. They would act as his eyes and ears, so if people had stuff they didn’t want the Gods to know, (like their troubling Pop Tarts problem or inability to go a day without checking TMZ) they would hide whenever they saw a raven. The raven slanderers were also super into death. Did you know, for instance, that if a raven taps on your window, croaks, flies up your chimney, or does the Macarena in front of you, you’re going to die? Ok, maybe not the last one, but come ON people! Ravens are hardly Sansa Stark!
There might be such a bad buzz around ravens because they’re super freaking smart, like making-all-the-birds-look-bad-so-they-started-spreading-rumours-but-aren’t-too-bright-so-made-everything-about-death smart. Ravens are even one of only four types of animal to be able to demonstrate displacement, which is where they’re able to chat to fellow ravens about stuff they’ve seen in the past, e.g. a hamster eating a teeny weeny pizza on YouTube. We all know what a major skill that is, right? Oh and by the way, the other three-time travelling thinkers are bees, ants and us. Look at us, thinking stuff about stuff. I’m so proud!
Of course, the smarter an animal is, the less it feels like doing. I mean, I could get off the sofa and change the channel, but luckily there’s a remote, so I can happily let my leg muscles waste away, only to be replaced by pizza and Venti Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccinos, which will totally be waaay more useful in later life. Ravens haven’t gotten around to inventing their own form of Segway and spaghetti forks* just yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I’m pretty much predicting a Raven-related apocalypse here, which might not make you their biggest fans, but come on, how cool would it be to see a raven riding a Segway, eating spaghetti, whilst foretelling the doom of civilization? Just me? Ok then.
Ravens aren’t only pasta fans, they will literally eat ANYTHING, (although the fork only works on pasta) and they’re not dumb about getting their fill. When they spot some dead animal they like the look of, but can’t crack open, they’ll mimic the call of something with big teeth, like a coyote or a wolf, and the animal will turn up, discover the carcass, chow down until they’re stuffed and then abandon it, giving the raven a super sneaky in on the action. And even though ravens are into sharing with bigger, badder creatures, they’re not big fans of sharing with each other. In fact, Ravens will sometimes lie in wait, watching as another raven hides their food, only to pinch it when they’ve fluttered off. However, Ravens have grown wise to their own tricks, sometimes pretending to hide food in one place before actually stashing it in another, just in case someone dodgy’s watching.
Ravens don’t just mimic wolves and coyotes. They are very vocally gifted, so much so that the Barden Bellas may have been in touch with a few. Just like in the Edgar Allen Poe poem, ravens will recite random words to you, though how creepy they are varies. Hello is nice, but Hello Clarice is a bit less friendly.
It’s not all serious though. The most awesome thing about ravens is that, like Girls, they just wanna have fun. When it snows, ravens like to tumble down slanted roofs, using them as slides. They’re also hardcore daredevils, playing tag with bigger animals, like vultures and wolves, which involves tugging on their tails and hopping away before they manage to eat you alive. Sounds fun, right? And ravens also, get this, MAKE TOYS. How cool is that? Alright, they don’t spend their lives crafting Rubik’s cubes or Furbies, but they do use stones and twigs and conifer cones as playthings. Can you imagine the fun they’d have in Barbie’s dreamhouse?!
And here’s a final fact to get you firmly on the bandwagon. The raven’s proper name is Corvus corax. Now, corvus means raven in Latin, and corax is Ancient Greek for… raven. So their name is literally translated as raven raven. That is SO raven! Come on, how could I not?
*Yes, these are an actual thing. It takes all of the romance out of a candlelit meal when you have to freak out about a fork lodged in your weave, slathering your lovely locks with spaghetti sauce.