Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bird Intelligence

Last week’s episode of the PBS series NATURE featured crows. The program revealed the high intelligence of these birds, possibly comparable in their own way to chimpanzees. For instance, crows not only shape and use tools, they can implement a multi-step problem-solving chain of actions, using one object to get another object, which they then use to obtain food. It has also been shown that crows somehow communicate with their offspring to teach the young birds to later avoid, in the absence of their elders, dangers they haven’t encountered before.

Among avians, some parrots have also been found to be much smarter than previously believed, able to respond appropriately to human language rather than just “parrot” it. They can obey verbal instructions and solve simple problems put to them in words. So much for the premise that near-human intelligence can’t fit into a small skull. Think of the implications for mentally enhanced dogs and cats or mythical diminutive humanoids such as leprechauns.

Off topic, as a footnote to the “weird sex” subject, here’s an article about cross-species rape and necrophilia by male sea otters in Monterey Bay. We used to enjoy watching them from the pier when we lived there—who would imagine such violent behavior from such “cute” animals?

Other Side of Otters

Which illustrates two facts: Many human sexual practices that have traditionally been called “perverted” and “unnatural” aren’t unnatural at all. And “natural” is not necessarily desirable.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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