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PNG images: Crow

Corvus is a widely distributed genus of medium-sized to large birds in the family Corvidae. The genus includes species commonly known as crows, ravens, rooks and jackdaws; there is no consistent distinction between "crows" and "ravens", and these appellations have been assigned to different species chiefly on the basis of their size, crows generally being smaller than ravens.

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Ranging in size from the relatively small pigeon-sized jackdaws (Eurasian and Daurian) to the common raven of the Holarctic region and thick-billed raven of the highlands of Ethiopia, the 45 or so members of this genus occur on all temperate continents except South America, and several islands. The crow genus makes up a third of the species in the family Corvidae. The members appear to have evolved in Asia from the corvid stock, which had evolved in Australia. The collective name for a group of crows is a 'flock' or a 'murder'. The genus name is Latin for "raven".

Recent research has found some crow species capable of not only tool use, but also tool construction. Crows are now considered to be among the world's most intelligent animals with an encephalization quotient equal to that of many non-human primates.

The members of the Corvus genus are believed to have evolved in central Asia and radiated out into North America, Africa, Europe, and Australia.

The latest evidence regarding the evolution indicates descent within the Australasian family Corvidae. However, the branch that would produce the modern groups such as jays, magpies, and large, predominantly black Corvusspecies had left Australasia and were concentrated in Asia by the time the Corvus species evolved. Corvus has since re-entered Australia (relatively recently) and produced five species with one recognised subspecies.

The genus was originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th-century work Systema Naturae. The name is derived from the Latin corvus meaning "raven".

The type species is the common raven (Corvus corax); others named in the same work include the carrion crow (C. corone), the hooded crow (C. cornix), the rook (C. frugilegus), and the jackdaw (C. monedula). The genus was originally broader, as the magpie was designated C. pica before being moved later into a genus of its own. At least 42 extant species are now considered to be in this genus, and at least 14 extinct species have been described.

 

The fossil record of crows is rather dense in Europe, but the relationships among most prehistoric species are not clear.