Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two Instances of Surprising Animal Intelligence

Here are two instances of surprising animal intelligence.

The more we learn about animals, the more it seems our way of treating them is immoral. (But then, that's true about gaining knowledge of pretty much everything.)

A crow that used multiple tools to accomplish a task:

And here's a surprising reaction from a dolphin. There may be some anthropromorphization in this interpretation, but what if there's not?
Let me tell you a story. One of the first dolphins I ever worked with was Circe. I’d bring her a fish when I wanted her to do certain things. If she didn’t do them, I did a “time-out” where I turned my back and walked away. Well, there was a certain type of fish that Circe loathed because it had a spiny tail. So I accommodated her by cutting the spines off of the tail. One day, I forgot to do that. Circe spit it out, swam to the other side of the pool and placed herself into a vertical position that mimicked my time-out. I wanted to test this. I gave her untrimmed fish on four different days. Whenever I gave her fish with spiny tails, she gave me a time-out. What that suggested was that she saw time out as a correction and used it back on me. Well, that’s how we learn to communicate.

-- Diana Reiss, interview in the New York Times


Richard Mercer said...

If you haven't seen it yet, there is a really funny video at YouTube, I think called "Two crows and a cat"

The way the crows 'tease' the cat, to me showed a mark of intelligence.

David Appell said...

Thanks -- I'm guessing your mean this:


My neighbor nurses crows who have been rescued after an injury, and says they're very intelligent. I've seem one of them dive-bombing her when she goes to her car.