School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Dr Nathan Emery


Senior Lecturer

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 3142
Room Number: Room 2.18, Fogg Building


Research Interests:

My research focuses on animal intelligence and the evolution of cognition, particularly in corvids, parrots, monkeys and apes.

Perhaps surprisingly, we have found striking similarities in the behaviour, ecology, neurobiology and cognitive mechanisms of corvids (crows, rooks, jackdaws and jays) and apes. We suggest that these similarities are adaptations for solving similar social and ecological problems, such as finding, protecting and extracting food and living in a complex social world. My research covers two main areas, social and physical cognition, such as what these birds may know about other minds and what they may know about the properties of objects.

We use both a comparative approach, comparing different species of corvids, and corvids with apes, and an ecological/ethological approach, using information about the natural lives of these birds to design ecologically valid experiments. We currently have large colonies of rooks, jackdaws, Eurasian jays and western scrub-jays housed at the Sub-department of Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge in large, modern aviaries with state-of-the-art facilities for behavioural observations and cognitive testing.

Much of my corvid research is in collaboration with Professor Nicky Clayton, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, whilst work on the great apes is in collaboration with Dr Josep Call at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.

Research department

Find out more on Nathan Emery's personal website