They say that intelligent life is somewhere out there. But what about right here at home?
Hello, we are /r/AnimalIntelligence. A sub-reddit for discussing intelligent life (other then humans) here on earth. Our goal is to better understand animals and become aware of their intelligence.
I think we really have had no idea what animals are capable of and the reason we are only recently finding this out is this:
100 years ago basically animals were food, vermin or working animals. It is only relatively recently that wild animals have figured out we are -- usually -- not dangerous to them and will often help. It is not just mammals and birds. Even turtles have sought human help.
This fox not only sought human help but drew conclusions: If we helped her kit, we must be friends. It behaves just like a dog or cat. Outside chance I suppose that the mother had been a pet, but I have never met anyone who had a fox as one -- fennec foxes are even unusual and that sure was not one.
I think I read that female horses in human-organized races actually will defer to males by letting them win.
This is somewhat plausible to me -- in nature, although males will also fight with each other, perhaps they also assert dominance by showing they are the fastest.
I have met more than one person in the horse racing business. One was a horse vet and he was quite sure that horses don't have the brains to understand that they are in a race but a trainer seemed to believe that horses do in fact get the situation and will try to win even without the jockey's urging.
If not all racehorses understand, perhaps the most successful ones do. I recall that champions are supposed to be more intelligent than other horses -- one actually picked up a rake in its stable and imitated the human who cleaned out its stall and another was observed tossing a stick in the air and catching it in its mouth.
In general, whenever someone asserts that animals are mindless, I am skeptical -- as I have mentioned before, all recent studies I have read have tended to show animals are more intelligent than previously believed. And since horses have pretty much one major "skill", which is running, why shouldn't they grasp the concept of racing?
seems like they might.
we have underestimated the minds of animals, I think.
lorne green -- so long ago -- was narrator when footage of a tarantula being attacked by a wasp was shown.
the comment was something like, perhaps a more experienced tarantula would have a chance...
even as a kid that sounded wrong to me since how would it gain experience?
interesting is that the spider seemed to know this fight was about survival not acquiring food -- that seems pretty intelligent to me. at the very least it implies that tarantulas can see fairly well since it was responding to what the wasp was trying to do.
Not sure when I read this but I think before internet, the book is from 30 years ago:
One story that I think I read in the book The Parrot’s Lament (a great book about animal intelligence) is a male orca scanned its pregnant mate and then acted angry/sad and it turned out that the orca baby was later stillborn. So we see an animal understanding the concept of pregnancy and incidentally is able to perform a test/diagnostic that was only developed by humans in the past half century or so. (Sonogram.)
It may have been about same male orca in same or different book where the orca understood a human needed a platform to stand on when they were moving the female into or from the tank and so he stayed still and allowed the man to stand on him -- weighing 5 tons, holding a 200 lb human steady is not a problem.
It is only within the past 20 years or so that it was discovered that Spirograph-like geometric patterns in the sand were created by male puffers for mating purposes -- trying to attract a female who will lay eggs in structure if she likes it.
Similar to the bower bird in this. I have read that bowers are intelligent in other ways -- their nest-building behavior could hardly be accounted for if they were not intelligent for such birds seem to get inspired by looking at bowers built by other males and will steal components or entire nests (a backhanded compliment especially if they kill you for it which happens).
I have read that puffer owners consider their fish unusually intelligent and I saw a remarkable video in which a pair of puffers were seen with one tangled in a net fragment.
While a diver worked to free its friend/mate/sibling/offspring, the puffer waited nearby (close enough for the diver to touch it) calmly and when the tangled fish had been freed, both puffers swam off together. Tell me that does not suggest high intelligence!
I would open by saying that because tarantulas live a long time, the ability to benefit from experience would be selected for I think while short-lived creatures have no need to learn or rather if they did need to, they probably have little chance of gaining useful experience.
Anyway, I think it was Discover magazine around 20 years ago that had an article in which an entomologist (unless spider specialists are called something else) who discussed two remarkable behaviors that tarantula owners had observed:
I saw the following: I dropped a piece of grass in the web of I think maybe an orb -weaver spider (it had a large web between two leaves of a plant) and the spider cautiously approached the grass and then removed it from the web. When I repeated the grass thing, the second time the spider acted almost instantly -- as if the memory of its recent experience had affected its current behavior. (I felt like it was annoyed by the second piece of grass, not afraid.)
I have seen it suggested that the spider "program" for extricating objects from its web had been "loaded" and this is why it behaved so quickly the second time. I guess this is different than remembering the prior event but still very interesting and worth study: just what happens physically in the spider brain in this situation?
I think anyone can probably study spiders and discover something new with regard to their learning ability.
One experiment is web-building and repairing behavior: do spiders improve with experience? If two spiders of the same species but different ages have their webs damaged, is there a difference in speed at which the more-experienced arachnid makes repairs when compared to a younger spider? Is the older spider faster and if so, does experience affect this or perhaps it is only physiological: Perhaps when the damage is discovered silk is produced to do this and maybe older spiders can do this faster. Or slower.
But one idea that even a school kid might be able to publish a paper or win a science fair.
I would be interested in hearing from people who own spiders and have anecdotes or have already heard of such experiments. To this day, I have no definite info on the sand color sorting (I believe it probably did not happen -- but imagine if it really did occur: one would be amazed if a dog or cat did this for sure.).
I would point out that experiments have shown bees can learn tasks even by observation and since I read about such bee experiments I am very open-minded about the possibility of surprising cognition in other invertebrates.
I have seen a video (not sure how many times this behavior has been observed or recorded) that shows an adult female croc helping hatchling turtles to the ocean.
It has been suggested that the croc is confusing baby turtles with its own young.
I would argue that certainly a croc can tell the difference between baby turtles and baby crocs.
I suggest that this behavior is either simply altruism, just as a human would try to help small creatures or perhaps more likely is that the extremely long-lived croc understands that the turtles grow up and lay more eggs -- this is then a sort of long-term farming activity, if indeed crocs sometimes eat turtles and/or their eggs.
Crocs may be the most-intelligent reptiles and they can live a century or more so they are likely to have good memories which serve them for example in their long-distance navigation to obtain foods (animals) that are available in different locations and times.
I was reading about how archer fish shoot water to hunt insects and that this is learned behavior. So that means at one point a fish developed an Idea using logic, other fish observed how that benefited them, started replicating it, and learned to account for light refraction. To me this seems like a pretty overlooked sign of intelligence
I would guess that very few animals would be even reasonable candidates to try, but with dolphin, orca or perhaps beluga (beluga might be very good candidates), simply see if the animal given a sequence of primes can provide the next one.
I seriously doubt that even a very intelligent animal would immediately be able to succeed at this -- numbers are important to humans due to I guess commerce and the calendar -- perhaps whales who migrate care about the calendar also, but probably not to the extent humans do. Commerce among whales non-existent but monkeys and apes seem to understand money pretty well.
It is an easy experiment to try.
The whales with the largest brains are I guess very hard to experiment with. But fundamental to their existence is image processing -- very mathematical and perhaps the sperm whale has been hoping a human will present it with a sequence of prime numbers. Maybe they don't think we understand them.
hello! i would really love it if you could all (uk residents only) take my dissertation survey on animal welfare being taught in schools: