This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 08 table of contents.

Summary: Animal Intelligence

Do animals have something like human consciousness? Gallup did classic research that seemed to show apes could recognize their own images in a mirror. The research has been criticized in various ways but has stimulated a lot of follow-up research.

Most animals are intelligent in specialized ways. Rats are good at exploring mazes and handling things with their paws. Pigeons excel at visual discriminations, like most birds. Bees are exceptionally good at mapping the location of pollen sources and conveying this information to other bees in the hive, using the "waggle dance" first identified by Von Frisch.

Chimps-our closest relatives among non-human primates-are capable of many forms of complex cognition. Often they perform cognitive tasks in ways that are strikingly similar to humans. They can be taught to use sign language to label objects, although apparently they cannot learn to generate complex grammatical sentences with any consistency.

Chimps also show human-like emotions on occasion, as illustrated by stories of chimp "sympathy" told by researchers like Yerkes and Terrace. Such anecdotes are not usually considered scientific forms of evidence, but some researchers argue that they provide a "gold mine" of ideas for later research or simply for enriching our understanding of animals.

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Copyright © 2007-2011 Russ Dewey