Friday, December 10, 2004

Crows and monkeys and men.

Two interesting articles about our feathered and furred friends. The first discusses a paper coming out in Science suggesting that the corvid family (crows and jays) are as intelligent as the great apes. That in itself is fascinating enough, but the following quotation caught my eye:
"What's so interesting is that while Western scrub jays may not have language, the research shows they've got many of the intellectual abilities that humans have. This suggests that many of our intellectual abilities which we think we need language for perhaps we don't in fact need language for. That then makes us try to understand these abilities in a different way."
Which made me immediately think of the issues involved in understanding cetacean intelligence. It stands to reason that if an intelligent being had no need to use tools (as whales and dolphins obviously don't), than we may have a very difficult time understanding what the majority of their thoughts are about; consider the difficulties in talking to another human without ever referencing something that required tools in one way or another.

And, as the following article points out, tool use and more importantly production is increasingly understood to be more common even among the "lesser" species than we thought.


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