Saturday, March 29, 2008

Animal minds

I'm a fan of National Geographic magazine, and found the March 2008 issue interesting.

The main articule of this issue is Animal Minds - that animals are smarter than we think. It goes like this on the cover: Animal Minds - Birds, Apes, Dolphins, and a Dog with a World-Class Vocabulary.

It features the following animals:

Uek the crow: solves problems and creates and uses tools

Azy the orangutan: shows cognitive complexity and flexibility rivaling that of chimps; the species maintains cultural traditions in the wild. The article says: "In the wild, orangutans keep innovative cultural traditions: Some groups construct foraging tools for extracting insects from tree holes; others use leaves as rain hats or napkins, wad them up as pillows, or line their hands with them when climbing a spiky tree. And in rare instances orangutans will twist leaves into bundles and cradle them like dolls."

Alex the parrot: counted; knew colors; shapes, and sizes had basic grasp of the abstract concept of zero.

Betsie the (Border Collie) dog: retains an ever growing vocabulary that rivals a toddlers.

JB the octopus: has distinct personality, uses tools, recognizes individuals.

Kanzi the bonobo (ape): acquired language spontaneously; makes tools at level of early humans.

Psychobird the jay: recalls the past, plans for the future.

And, uh, I also learned that the capital of Bhutan is Thimphu.