The Hidden Intelligence of Animals
Experiments on animal cognition have found that intelligence is more dynamic than we once thought and that animals may be far more clever than we have historically given them credit for.
What's the Latest Development?
Over the past decade, experiments on animal intelligence—involving primarily chimps and elephants—have found that cognition is a more dynamic process than we once thought and that animals may be far more clever than we have historically given them credit for. In 2007, a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University put human memory to shame. "Trained on a touch screen, Ayumu could recall a random series of nine numbers, from 1 to 9, and tap them in the right order, even though the numbers had been displayed for just a fraction of a second and then replaced with white squares."
What's the Big Idea?
For years, scientists believed that elephants were incapable of using tools, such as sticks to fetch plates of food just out of reach, but that may be because it's not a tool elephants find useful. In more recent tests, elephants were quick to use a wooden block to reach food tied above their heads (it is thought that grasping sticks closes an elephant's trunk, an essential sensory organ and therefore one they are extremely hesitant to give up). The lesson is that our view of human intelligence appears to have been too exclusive, dating all the way back to ancient Greece. When we meet animals on their terms, many species turn out to be quite clever.
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Scientists have developed new ways of understanding how the biological forces of death drive important life processes.
- Researchers have found new ways on how decomposing plants and animals contribute to the life cycle.
- After a freak mass herd death of 300 reindeer, scientists were able to study a wide range of the decomposition processes.
- Promoting the necrobiome research will open up new areas of inquiry and even commerce.
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
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