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Turning Over New Leaf

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Smarter Than We Think

monkey

Anyone who has ever shared life with a pet knows animals are smart. I never realized how intelligent they really were until I recently completed a research project with some of my students.

For example, the New Caledonian Crow solves problems, creates things, and uses tools. This talent was once thought to be reserved for the domain of primates. One fish, the African Cichlid, determines its social rank through observation, which is actually the initial step toward logical reasoning.

Elephants, apes, and dolphins have proven cognitive enough to recognize themselves in mirrors. Another bird, the African Gray Parrot, has learned to count as well as a Ring-tailed Lemur, and can identify colors, shapes, and sizes, and understands the concept of zero. A Black Leicester Longwool sheep is able to differentiate faces, much like the Giant Pacific Octopus (which also uses tools), and retains facial recognition into the future.

I have always loved dogs, and I knew they were smart creatures, but I was unaware that Border Collies possess the vocabulary recognition of toddlers. According to the National Geographic Society, the Bonobo, or Pygmy Chimpanzee, not only acquires language skills spontaneously, but also makes tools at the same rudimentary level as early human beings.

There are many amazing animal skills most of us would never have envisioned. Marmosets imitate and learn from one another. Western Scrub Jays not only recall the past, but plan for the future! However, my favorite discovery during my research was the ability of the Orangutan.

With about the same intelligence as the African ape, Orangutans possess a cognitive complexity similar to that of the Chimpanzee. They even maintain unique cultural traditions! They make logical choices, construct useful tools, and in some cases, twist leaves into bundles to form dolls to caress and cradle.

As an animal lover, I have confirmed through my research my lifelong belief that animals are amazing creatures of Nature deserving of respect. In fact, I don’t think I have ever met one I didn’t like.
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25 comments:

  1. When I got my kitten at the age of 7 weeks, she knew how to use the litter box, even found it after I had moved it... She has me trained where she knows which buttons to push to get me to give her a treat..She knows which cabinet its in and refuses to eat from the bowl-like container they are in...As the vet says "she knows they are a treat and not kibble"... She also knows her fake growling when I clip her back nails is just an act...Funny how I can tell her one time what not to do and she abides unlike kids....:-)
    She's loyal, unconditional and loving.... she's better than the last relationship I had before she came into my life....

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  2. KBF: Animals have never done me wrong!

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  3. Hi JJ .. how do we train humans to be more intelligent and respect life?! I agree though - animals are amazing .. and I've just seen a photo of an ant 'drinking' from a frozen globulet of frozen-iced water .. quite extraordinary ..

    Thanks - it's always so interesting to read more - cheers Hilary

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  4. Hilary: I agree with you on humans. I never met an animal I didn't like. Cheers.

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  5. I found this really interesting. I'm pleased that even a sheep got a mention - must people think they're just stupid animals :-)

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  6. If they have emotions they must feel pain. Thus I choose to believe they have a soul.

    I love my dogs and I know they love me. They understand verbal commands. They know when someone isn't a good person and I believe they can sense emotions in humans.

    My dogs have even clung to me when I was sad and sick. When my grandmother died, our cat, and you know how finicky cats are, clung to me during my period of grief.

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  7. Sarah: I agree. It's the same with humans. If one comes across as calm and peaceful, people mistake them for less than intelligent and easy prey.

    Ames: My dogs know I'm coming home 10 minutes before I arrive.

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  8. JJ your comment to Sarah is a powerful statement. It gives a new explanation has to why oythers have treated me the way they have.

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  9. Thanks for this. Lots of fun, new info. to me.
    Animals ARE pretty amazing in so many ways.
    My dogs have always been attuned to how I'm feeling and what I need. I especially appreciate their selfless companionship. That seems to be a unique quality that only animals truly posses.

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  10. This post was brilliant! I had no idea about half those things!

    I've always suspected animals are more intelligent than us humans tend to give them credit for...and now I know that they are :-)

    C x

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  11. We are not alone in the intelligence community, and sometimes I wonder if we are even at the top!

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  12. Animals are amazing. Check out this dog video. I think you will LOVE IT.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqbVbPvlDoM

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  13. Ames: Hmmm. No one should ever mistake kindness for weakness.

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  14. Jasmine: "Selfless companionship." You bet! I agree. Dogs are never 50%.

    Carol: I had a blast finding these facts.

    Galen: We are not on top of everything, for sure.

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  15. Robin: Wow! I hope everyone watches this video. Rookie is fantastic! Thank you for the pleasant experience.

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  16. Thanks for this amazing post JJ. Animals have much more sophisticated characteristics than what some people might think of.

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  17. Thank you for this amazing post JJ.
    Animals are much more sophisticated than many people think.

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  18. so interesting!!! amazing actually. I bet your job is fun!

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  19. I had to come back to say that I have seen that video of the dancing dog before and I love it every time! The dog dances much better than I do!! Anytime you are in a slump, just watch it again!

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  20. Fanático_Um: Yes they are!

    momto8: I love my job. It enables me to be a lifetime learner.

    Galen: Which means you dance a lot better than I do!

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  21. I love this post! I love how elephants protect eachother and how dolphins save lives. I love how enjoyable dogs can make life for so many millions of people. I love to watch my children chase butterflies and play with lady bugs in our yard. Animals are such an important part of this beautiful life. :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  22. Miriam: They sure are! I could not imagine a world without them.

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  23. We have had several dogs. they are smart creatures, indeed.

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  24. It just amazes me that some animals can be smarter than us.

    take for example, the army of ants, they work together for a common purpose which we, human beings, must learn from because some of us would rather bring other people down than to help them out.

    very nice post. : )

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  25. Rob-bear: I have two also, and most of my life, I had four. They are smart indeed.

    Erwin ERS: I'm not sure they are smarter, but they act smarter than we often do. One thing I am sure of is that they do not possess human frailties, like revenge, etc.

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