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Noclevername
2012-Jul-14, 06:04 AM
I've heard a lot lately about certain tests that supposedly show a few birds with tiny brains but great intelligence. But as far as I know the tests all consist of actions like pulling on certain colored pegs, and other things that could just as easily be instinctive or conditioned behaviors.

How accurate and reliable are these tests? And do they really show intelligence?

primummobile
2012-Jul-14, 03:47 PM
I can't speak for the accuracy of the tests, but I believe that some birds are probably remarkably intelligent, just not always in the way we think of intelligence. I think you could make a comparison to the intelligence of some cephalopods, where they exhibit signs of intelligence but their cognition is alien to what we think of as cognition.

Of course, maybe they are just fooling us into thinking they may be intelligent. Calling someone a "bird-brain" had to originate with at least some nugget of truth.

Swift
2012-Jul-14, 04:07 PM
Many of the tests involve problem solving. It is not so much the fact that they can pull on a peg, but that they do it in the correct sequence

BBC article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8631486.stm)

New Caledonian crows have given scientists yet another display of their tool-using prowess.

Scientists from New Zealand's University of Auckland have found that the birds are able to use three tools in succession to reach some food.

The crows, which use tools in the wild, have also shown other problem-solving behaviour, but this find suggests they are more innovative than was thought.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The team headed to the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, the home of Corvus moneduloides. They are the only birds known to craft and use tools in the wild.

The discovery that they whittle branches into hooks and tear leaves into barbed probes to extract food from hard-to-reach nooks astounded scientists, who had previously thought that ability to fashion tools was unique to primates.

And further research in the laboratory and the field has revealed that New Caledonian crows are also innovative problem solvers, often rivalling primates. Experiments have shown that the birds can craft new tools out of unfamiliar materials, as well as use a number of tools in succession.

The other evidence of bird intelligence is in communication skills. Not only bird song (which can be complex), in some birds, such as parrots, the ability to learn human communication and show evidence of abstract thought. The most famous is probably the work of Irene Pepperberg with Alex, the Gray parrot (NY Times article (http://www.123compute.net/dreaming/knocking/alex.html)).

For the last 22 years, Dr. Pepperberg has been teaching Alex, who is 23, to do complex tasks of the sort that only a few nonhuman species -- chimpanzees, for instance -- have been able to perform. But unlike those other creatures, Alex can talk, or at least, he can vocalize. And, Dr. Pepperberg says, Alex doesn't just imitate human speech, as other parrots do -- Alex can think. His actions are not just an instinctive response, she says, but rather a result of reasoning and choice.

Assertions like Dr. Pepperberg's are at the center of a highly emotional debate about whether thought is solely the domain of humans, or whether it can exist in other animals. Although many people are intrigued by the idea that animals may be capable of some form of abstract reasoning and communication, scientists often ascribe what looks like clever behavior to mimicry or rote learning or even, in some cases, unconscious cues by a trainer.
...

Dr. Pepperberg, listing Alex's accomplishments, said he could identify 50 different objects and recognize quantities up to 6; that he could distinguish 7 colors and 5 shapes, and understand "bigger," "smaller," "same" and "different," and that he was learning the concepts of "over" and "under." Hold a tray of different shapes and colored objects in front of him, as Dr. Pepperberg was doing the other day as a reporter watched, and he can distinguish an object by its color, shape and the material it is made of. (Dr. Pepperberg said she frequently changed objects to make sure Alex wasn't just memorizing things and that she structured experiments to avoid involuntary cues from his examiner).

I find it interesting that the birds that seem to be the most intelligent, like crows and parrots, are also the most social in the wild.

Cougar
2012-Jul-14, 04:26 PM
But as far as I know the tests all consist of actions like pulling on certain colored pegs, and other things that could just as easily be instinctive or conditioned behaviors.

Aren't most human behaviors pretty close to "conditioned"?

publiusr
2012-Jul-14, 05:02 PM
I seem to remember a crow that would dunk food into little dipping trays emulating people eating McNuggets. Of course those McNuggets are contributing to my dimwittedness since I seem to have more cholesterol than blood these days.

primummobile
2012-Jul-14, 05:08 PM
I find it interesting that the birds that seem to be the most intelligent, like crows and parrots, are also the most social in the wild.

Do you know how the intelligence of some of the birds of prey compares to the birds you mention?

Swift
2012-Jul-14, 07:18 PM
Do you know how the intelligence of some of the birds of prey compares to the birds you mention?
I have no scientific studies (they may exist, I just don't know), but the ones I've met don't seem very bright. And yes, I've met some, at the park where I volunteer, they have a wild animal rehab center, and they have a number of permanent resident hawks and owls.

A little googling found this discussion from a bird forum (http://www.birdforum.net/archive/index.php/t-10087.html).

primummobile
2012-Jul-14, 07:28 PM
I have no scientific studies (they may exist, I just don't know), but the ones I've met don't seem very bright. And yes, I've met some, at the park where I volunteer, they have a wild animal rehab center, and they have a number of permanent resident hawks and owls.

A little googling found this discussion from a bird forum (http://www.birdforum.net/archive/index.php/t-10087.html).

Thanks. That seems to square with what I thought. I've been to the Pittsburgh Aviary a few times and the birds of prey, while impressive to look at, always seemed rather uninteresting compared to the other birds.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Jul-16, 10:00 AM
Do you know how the intelligence of some of the birds of prey compares to the birds you mention?
Going by predatory rather than bird of prey, owls are generally considered dumber than bricks by animal trainers. If they're really good they can learn one trick per owl, so a movie requiring an owl that performs five tricks, it actually takes at least five owls..

Swift
2012-Jul-16, 01:27 PM
Going by predatory rather than bird of prey, owls are generally considered dumber than bricks by animal trainers. If they're really good they can learn one trick per owl, so a movie requiring an owl that performs five tricks, it actually takes at least five owls..
If you look at an owl skull (image of Great Horned owl skull (http://www.connecticutvalleybiological.com/images/sp3072.jpg)), I think it is apparent why. A majority of their skull is eyes; not much room left for brains.

primummobile
2012-Jul-16, 01:34 PM
Going by predatory rather than bird of prey, owls are generally considered dumber than bricks by animal trainers. If they're really good they can learn one trick per owl, so a movie requiring an owl that performs five tricks, it actually takes at least five owls..


Really? That's pretty interesting. I guess that looks can be deceiving. They look wise.

Swift
2012-Jul-16, 02:50 PM
Really? That's pretty interesting. I guess that looks can be deceiving. They look wise.
As I understand it, it is generally thought that the belief they are wise comes from their large eyes. In any case, it is a very ancient myth, at least back to Ancient Greece, where the owl was associated with Athena

primummobile
2012-Jul-16, 07:07 PM
As I understand it, it is generally thought that the belief they are wise comes from their large eyes. In any case, it is a very ancient myth, at least back to Ancient Greece, where the owl was associated with Athena

And perpetuated by the owl in the Tootsie-Pop commercials!

Swift
2012-Jul-16, 08:58 PM
And perpetuated by the owl in the Tootsie-Pop commercials!
LoL

And here I thought it was Owl in Winnie the Pooh.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-16, 09:03 PM
Have you ever seen a featherless owl? Without all that big fluff to bulk it out, it's kinda creepy, giant eyes protruding from a tiny head, on a pencil-thin neck.

primummobile
2012-Jul-16, 09:21 PM
Have you ever seen a featherless owl? Without all that big fluff to bulk it out, it's kinda creepy, giant eyes protruding from a tiny head, on a pencil-thin neck.

No, I haven't. Where have you seen a featherless owl?

primummobile
2012-Jul-16, 09:22 PM
LoL

On here I thought it was Owl in Winnie the Pooh.

Well, that Owl was undoubtedly first.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-16, 09:28 PM
No, I haven't. Where have you seen a featherless owl?

When I was a kid, I went to a science camp at IIRC Talcot Mountain Science Center, and among other things they had an owl display which included a stuffed and mounted Great Horned owl sans feathers. It gave me nightmares for several days after.

Trebuchet
2012-Jul-17, 02:23 PM
LoL

And here I thought it was Owl in Winnie the Pooh.

As I recall (and its been a loooong time), Owl was kind of a nitwit. Thought Eyore's tail was a doorbell pull.

Corvids (crows & kin) can be scary smart. Researchers in Seattle did a study wearing masks which they conditioned the crows to be wary of. This information somehow got passed on to a new generation of crows who hadn't seen the masks before.

swampyankee
2012-Jul-17, 02:35 PM
When I was a kid, I went to a science camp at IIRC Talcot Mountain Science Center, and among other things they had an owl display which included a stuffed and mounted Great Horned owl sans feathers. It gave me nightmares for several days after.

Hey, so did I!

Really cool place.

Swift
2012-Jul-17, 06:11 PM
Corvids (crows & kin) can be scary smart. Researchers in Seattle did a study wearing masks which they conditioned the crows to be wary of. This information somehow got passed on to a new generation of crows who hadn't seen the masks before.
I read a review of that and similar studies (probably in Science News, don't remember for sure). That review also mentioned a study, I think it was at Cornell, where they were trying to do a census of crows in this town. If I remember the details correctly, the way they did the census was to drive around town to certain spots, offer food, and count the number of crows that showed up. Problem was, the crows learned to recognize the car, and would start following it around to look for food. For months after the study ended, the researcher still had crows following their car around. And, other people with the same color and model car started reporting crows would come up to them looking for food.

selden
2012-Jul-17, 07:26 PM
This may be one of the reasons so many of the crows at Cornell have large tags on their wings. At least now you can tell which one is which and don't accidentally double (or multiple) count them. ;)

TooMany
2012-Jul-17, 07:26 PM
It seems that for every story you hear about animal intelligence (even from controlled experiments) there is some scientist who renders the opinion that it's "not really intelligence" that is seen. Someone should study those guys.

Noam Chomsky is well known for rendering the opinion that only humans have no language skills. And yet chimpanzees for example have a highly developed order social structure. Doesn't that require some level of communication, through facial expressions, body language and noises? Some type of primate, I can't remember the species but probably a chimp, was able to at least learn grammar in the sense of being able to choose an appropriate order for symbols (such as nouns and verbs). Are not such capabilities a foundation for language? When I hear "only humans can do this" now I am skeptical.

The crows are pretty smart and highly social. I hear them yakking every morning. They sound awful and just seem to say the same thing over and over, but lately I've begun to notice that each one's voice is slightly different. I wonder if they are saying "I'm here". They all look very similar so maybe their unique noises are a way of announcing their presence and who they are.

I know this is stupid, but it's kind of funny. When the babies are hungry, they repeat a high-pitched sound that sounds like "maaa, maaa, maaa". Those young voices are distinct as well. The young fly around in an area and are feed by their parents for some period of time until they learn(?) how to fend for themselves. Since these youngsters are quite mobile and numerous and since their parents have to leave them to find food, it makes senses that their voices should serve as identification.

The crows have different ways of coming by food. They are largely scavengers so they find road kill and picnic debris in a nearby park (which they sometimes soften in our birdbath). They get into the trash barrels at the curb on pickup day and make a big mess looking for and finding food. Another annoying trick is digging up your turf with their claws to find bugs and worms. I suspect some of these behaviors are passed along from generation to generation. They seem able to judge your behavior and decide how much of a threat you might be. If you reliably "act nice" they allow you to get pretty close, whereas other birds will fly when they detect any movement.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Jul-17, 07:54 PM
There seems to be a lot of variant "no true Scotsman" thinking by many people when it comes to non-human intelligence, "They can do X? But that doesn't require real intelligence...".
Instead of looking at intelligence as a continuum where we're simply furthest up of the species we know, they want everything else to be on a different scale from us.

Swift
2012-Jul-17, 08:02 PM
It seems that for every story you hear about animal intelligence (even from controlled experiments) there is some scientist who renders the opinion that it's "not really intelligence" that is seen. Someone should study those guys.

Noam Chomsky is well known for rendering the opinion that only humans have no language skills. And yet chimpanzees for example have a highly developed order social structure. Doesn't that require some level of communication, through facial expressions, body language and noises?
I don't know for sure, but I suspect that it would be close to a universal opinion among scientists that at least the mammals and birds all have some sort of communication ability. As you say, there has to be some sort of communication for there to be a social structure. It might be as simple as a bark or chirp that means "danger" or "mate with me".

I suspect where the disagreement comes is with whether any non-human animals have "language". And don't ask what the difference is; I have somewhat of a feel, I suspect it has to do with structure and flexibility and complexity of the communicated concepts; but that's my rough guess.

A further disagreement probably also comes from the question as to whether any non-human animals have "intelligence". I suspect this is related to the language issue, but may not exactly match up.

Swift
2012-Jul-17, 08:13 PM
There seems to be a lot of variant "no true Scotsman" thinking by many people when it comes to non-human intelligence, "They can do X? But that doesn't require real intelligence...".
Instead of looking at intelligence as a continuum where we're simply furthest up of the species we know, they want everything else to be on a different scale from us.
Again, I'm no expert on the field, (though I have a lot of interest in it going back to college courses in linguistics in the late 70s) but that is my take on the question of non-human language and intelligence. I don't think it is a black and white thing, and even among the extremes in humans, it is a continuum.

I think a lot of work with primate language learning (like sign language) indicates that even if human-like language is an unnatural "condition" in non-human primates, that there exists in the brains enough of the fundamental abilities that they can pick up such languages as a learned ability.

I think we are also finding that the more we look, the more kinds of animals have some pretty complex communication skills, even if not what we might consider language. The work, for example, with elephants, showed that once you start listening at very low frequencies (below normal human hearing) that there are some very complex calls going on, which we are only beginning to decipher.

As far as intelligence, there is no single "kind" of intelligence. Again, even among humans, a single parameter measure of intelligence, like IQ, is close to worthless. Saying, for example, that a chimp has the intelligence of a five year old child, is rather meaningless, since in some ways their intelligence exceeds that, and in other ways it will never be that good.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Jul-17, 10:14 PM
And then you get things like the cephalopod communication through rapid color signals that we have no simple way of reproducing well enough to do any reasonable experiments.
They can be scary smart as well, Big Don mentioned one that would climb out of its own aquarium and raid the others for fish it would bring back, eat, then hide the remains.

TooMany
2012-Jul-18, 01:53 AM
And then you get things like the cephalopod communication through rapid color signals that we have no simple way of reproducing well enough to do any reasonable experiments.
They can be scary smart as well, Big Don mentioned one that would climb out of its own aquarium and raid the others for fish it would bring back, eat, then hide the remains.

I suspect that tool use has an synergistic effect on the evolution of intelligence. That is a tool can be such an advantage that the ability to use tools is highly selected. For birds, the problem is that they don't have hands as such. Maybe hands are really the basis of develop of intelligence at the human level. Primates had hands because they lived in trees and picked fruit. Dexterity and color vision became important. With hands, tool use becomes practical and with tool use, survival of the best tool users.

However, then you have to explain why chimps, although able to use tools a little, did not progress further at the same time hominids were evolving. One possibility is that whatever additional ability that they might have developed was a detriment because they came into competition with superior tool users. So perhaps they found a niche in which they were safe from the evolving hominids because they did not constitute a threat to them. This reasoning explains why all hominid lines except homo sapiens are now extinct.

Now cephalopods have plenty of hands, but as far as I know they do not use tools. Perhaps there is something about the undersea environment that limits the usefulness of tools. Dolphins are smart but lack appendages beyond flippers and a tail. They may have evolved intelligence somewhat the way dogs have. They are highly social and they hunt in packs.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-18, 02:02 AM
Now cephalopods have plenty of hands, but as far as I know they do not use tools. Perhaps there is something about the undersea environment that limits the usefulness of tools.

Octopi can learn to use tools (opening jars and crab traps and the like), perhaps we simply haven't caught them at it much in their native environment. The Veined Octopus used coconut shells and seashells to build shelters (in the wild, that is, untrained).

HenrikOlsen
2012-Jul-18, 07:58 AM
Any discussion of intelligence really need to look at extelligence as well.
Language as a means to store information about the world in excess of immediate requirements is what really drove human intelligence up.
Tool use isn't enough.

The real trick humans have that put us ahead of the others isn't tool use or learning, it's teaching.
Active teaching, not just by show and imitate, but by talking, often by making up stories to explain connections.

It's the skill of adding to the intelligence/knowledge of others. Which incidentally includes other animals.

It's because we can teach new tricks to old dogs that we're ahead.

NEOWatcher
2012-Jul-18, 12:20 PM
The real trick humans have that put us ahead of the others isn't tool use or learning, it's teaching.
That's what I get out of some shows that describe research on chimps.
They have repeatedly shown that a chimp will teach another chimp a technique, but only when that other chimp requires it.
There is no preemptive teaching.


Active teaching, not just by show and imitate, but by talking, often by making up stories to explain connections.
Seeing a need to teach would probably come before language. They would still have the ability to show as in "come with me and I'll show you".

Antice
2012-Jul-18, 12:26 PM
Any discussion of intelligence really need to look at extelligence as well.
Language as a means to store information about the world in excess of immediate requirements is what really drove human intelligence up.
Tool use isn't enough.

The real trick humans have that put us ahead of the others isn't tool use or learning, it's teaching.
Active teaching, not just by show and imitate, but by talking, often by making up stories to explain connections.

It's the skill of adding to the intelligence/knowledge of others. Which incidentally includes other animals.

It's because we can teach new tricks to old dogs that we're ahead.

I think this is the first thing mentioned about differences in human vs animal inteligence that i find myself fully agreeing with.

some Animals do have language, altho not as complex as ours (it seems at least. could be dead wrong tbh).
some Animals do have great problem solving ability. (sometimes exceeding that of some humans i know of.)
Some Animals teach their young. altho not in such a large degree as we do, and not in the same manner.
Some animals express great creativity, and will make expressions of "art" (some songbirds seem to be great imrovisers of song. those serenades can be everything from happy to sad sounding, altho they may at the same time be a form of complex conunication. hard to tell the diference tbh)

At some point in our evolutionary history we got an advantage from being great at passing along knowledge. at being good at planning for the future, and being good comunicators. These traits got selected for at the cost of more or less any and all other survival traits we might have had back then, except color binocular vision. we are a highly vision based species. something that is mirrored in that our most accurate comunication skill is the vision based language called writing. visual art is just another expression of visual comunication imho.

The diference between "us" and "animals" is definately only one of degree imho. I'm sorry if that is offensive to some, but that is what all this research into inteligence seem to boil down to.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Jul-18, 12:35 PM
These traits got selected for at the cost of more or less any and all other survival traits we might have had back then, except color binocular vision. we are a highly vision based species. something that is mirrored in that our most accurate comunication skill is the vision based language called writing. visual art is just another expression of visual comunication imho.
We're also specialized for endurance running and temperature tolerance and those haven't been lost.

Buttercup
2012-Jul-18, 01:26 PM
Always giggle when I see this thread title. Yeah, I've known plenty of bird brains. :-p

NEOWatcher
2012-Jul-18, 01:28 PM
...those haven't been lost.
Maybe as a species, but personally it has. http://www.cosgan.de/images/smilie/figuren/a045.gif (http://www.cosgan.de/smilie.php)

Swift
2012-Jul-18, 01:55 PM
Always giggle when I see this thread title. Yeah, I've known plenty of bird brains. :-p
Not to derail things, but I think this thread, to some extent, supports the fact this old expression ("bird brained") might be off. Along a similar line, I always found "eats like a horse" to mean eats a lot, and "eats like a bird" to mean eats very little, to be very wrong. As a percentage of their body weight, horses eat relatively little, whereas birds eat a lot. Hummingbirds eat something like half their body weight a day!

TooMany
2012-Jul-18, 03:47 PM
Octopi can learn to use tools (opening jars and crab traps and the like), perhaps we simply haven't caught them at it much in their native environment. The Veined Octopus used coconut shells and seashells to build shelters (in the wild, that is, untrained).

Opening jars is pretty impressive if they actually unscrew them. I know they open clams by pulling until the clam gets tired.

It's interesting because they represent a completely independent development of intelligence. I mean they aren't even vertebrates. Maybe the implication of all these smart animals is that development of intelligence is inevitable in evolution. So we can conclude that where there is evolved life in the Universe there is at least the possibility of intelligence.

TooMany
2012-Jul-18, 04:06 PM
Not to derail things, but I think this thread, to some extent, supports the fact this old expression ("bird brained") might be off. Along a similar line, I always found "eats like a horse" to mean eats a lot, and "eats like a bird" to mean eats very little, to be very wrong. As a percentage of their body weight, horses eat relatively little, whereas birds eat a lot. Hummingbirds eat something like half their body weight a day!

Humming birds are remarkable. Their brains are tiny yet they build nests and raise young just like other birds. I was watching one the other day. For some reason it stopped to just hover in empty space (no flowers or anything). There was a light breeze blowing but the bird was absolutely frozen in place relative to the background. Perhaps it had found something I couldn't see like a spider since the bird was hovering under a patio cover. Do they eat animals? I thought they only ate nectar.

Once a humming bird got lost inside our open garage. The bird got tangled up in some plastic bags. I extricated the bird but it was not able to fly. I figured it for a dying old bird. My wife who literally won't hurt a fly, put the bird in an old bird cage. At this point the bird was barely able to move. She got an eyedropper and mixed up some sugar water and fed it. Its tiny little tounge lapped at the drips. After about an hour the bird started to move again. She opened the cage took out the bird and it flew away like nothing was wrong. It had simple run out of gas! They are in serious risk if they don't have an adequate food supply.

Anyway, what's so remarkable to me is that all the usual bird intelligence is in such a tiny brain.

IsaacKuo
2012-Jul-18, 04:18 PM
Do they eat animals? I thought they only ate nectar.
Hummingbirds eat insects also. It's an important source of protien.

Antice
2012-Jul-18, 05:34 PM
Humming birds are remarkable. Their brains are tiny yet they build nests and raise young just like other birds. I was watching one the other day. For some reason it stopped to just hover in empty space (no flowers or anything). There was a light breeze blowing but the bird was absolutely frozen in place relative to the background. Perhaps it had found something I couldn't see like a spider since the bird was hovering under a patio cover. Do they eat animals? I thought they only ate nectar.

Once a humming bird got lost inside our open garage. The bird got tangled up in some plastic bags. I extricated the bird but it was not able to fly. I figured it for a dying old bird. My wife who literally won't hurt a fly, put the bird in an old bird cage. At this point the bird was barely able to move. She got an eyedropper and mixed up some sugar water and fed it. Its tiny little tounge lapped at the drips. After about an hour the bird started to move again. She opened the cage took out the bird and it flew away like nothing was wrong. It had simple run out of gas! They are in serious risk if they don't have an adequate food supply.

Anyway, what's so remarkable to me is that all the usual bird intelligence is in such a tiny brain.

Sugar, the JP7 of nature. Them hummingbirds use an enourmous amount of energy to sustain themselves. i somethimes wonder how they managed to evolve into that curious position in the first place???

primummobile
2012-Jul-19, 04:20 PM
I don't know for sure, but I suspect that it would be close to a universal opinion among scientists that at least the mammals and birds all have some sort of communication ability. As you say, there has to be some sort of communication for there to be a social structure. It might be as simple as a bark or chirp that means "danger" or "mate with me".

I suspect where the disagreement comes is with whether any non-human animals have "language". And don't ask what the difference is; I have somewhat of a feel, I suspect it has to do with structure and flexibility and complexity of the communicated concepts; but that's my rough guess.

A further disagreement probably also comes from the question as to whether any non-human animals have "intelligence". I suspect this is related to the language issue, but may not exactly match up.

I think the difference is mostly in how abstract of a concept you are able to communicate. I think that any true "language" would need to have the ability to convey abstract thoughts.

primummobile
2012-Jul-19, 04:30 PM
I suspect that tool use has an synergistic effect on the evolution of intelligence. That is a tool can be such an advantage that the ability to use tools is highly selected. For birds, the problem is that they don't have hands as such. Maybe hands are really the basis of develop of intelligence at the human level. Primates had hands because they lived in trees and picked fruit. Dexterity and color vision became important. With hands, tool use becomes practical and with tool use, survival of the best tool users.

However, then you have to explain why chimps, although able to use tools a little, did not progress further at the same time hominids were evolving. One possibility is that whatever additional ability that they might have developed was a detriment because they came into competition with superior tool users. So perhaps they found a niche in which they were safe from the evolving hominids because they did not constitute a threat to them. This reasoning explains why all hominid lines except homo sapiens are now extinct.

Now cephalopods have plenty of hands, but as far as I know they do not use tools. Perhaps there is something about the undersea environment that limits the usefulness of tools. Dolphins are smart but lack appendages beyond flippers and a tail. They may have evolved intelligence somewhat the way dogs have. They are highly social and they hunt in packs.

I think your second paragraph is spot-on as to why no other species of the homo genus still exists, but other types of primate continue to thrive.

As to your other points, I had a conversation where I said much the same about a month or so ago in one of the threads in the Life In Space forum. I agree with all those, too. I think the physical ability to use tools came before the knowledge of how to use tools.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-19, 06:30 PM
I think the physical ability to use tools came before the knowledge of how to use tools.

The fossil record also bears that out, with more dextrous hands developing far earlier than large brains. IIRC, The age of the earliest chipped stone tools discovered goes back to before the growth of the modern speech center.

primummobile
2012-Jul-20, 12:09 AM
The fossil record also bears that out, with more dextrous hands developing far earlier than large brains. IIRC, The age of the earliest chipped stone tools discovered goes back to before the growth of the modern speech center.


Really? It's amazing what you can learn about biology on an astronomy forum. :D

Cosmologist
2012-Jul-24, 02:21 AM
Crows are so smart. In the country they can recognise when a farmer is carrying a gun. Maybe its passed on memory like that mask experiment. Don't recall where I heard about it but recognising firearms sounds like a useful survival trait. I do remember hearing a funny story on the radio though.

For some reason this golf course was having problems with Crows. They were stealing golf balls. So the management called in an expert. He watched for a few days and then explained what was going on. At first the crows had simply mistaken the balls for eggs. But then something curious had happened. A human with a big stick (golf club) had come running over screaming its head off. The crow ofcourse would just fly up into a tree out of reach and watch. Taking the ball with it. The human would then keep running over and screaming. At no point was he remotely within reach of the crow.

The crows found this extremely entertaining so they would then go and steal another golf ball just to watch the crazy apes storm over waving their sticks and screaming.

He advised ignoring the birds when they stole golf balls and management quickly spread the word. Sure enough the behaviour stopped.

Does a sense of humour count as intelligence?

primummobile
2012-Jul-24, 12:34 PM
Crows are so smart. In the country they can recognise when a farmer is carrying a gun. Maybe its passed on memory like that mask experiment. Don't recall where I heard about it but recognising firearms sounds like a useful survival trait. I do remember hearing a funny story on the radio though.

For some reason this golf course was having problems with Crows. They were stealing golf balls. So the management called in an expert. He watched for a few days and then explained what was going on. At first the crows had simply mistaken the balls for eggs. But then something curious had happened. A human with a big stick (golf club) had come running over screaming its head off. The crow ofcourse would just fly up into a tree out of reach and watch. Taking the ball with it. The human would then keep running over and screaming. At no point was he remotely within reach of the crow.

The crows found this extremely entertaining so they would then go and steal another golf ball just to watch the crazy apes storm over waving their sticks and screaming.

He advised ignoring the birds when they stole golf balls and management quickly spread the word. Sure enough the behaviour stopped.

Does a sense of humour count as intelligence?

Do you know where this happened?

swampyankee
2012-Jul-24, 01:18 PM
I think your second paragraph is spot-on as to why no other species of the homo genus still exists, but other types of primate continue to thrive.

As to your other points, I had a conversation where I said much the same about a month or so ago in one of the threads in the Life In Space forum. I agree with all those, too. I think the physical ability to use tools came before the knowledge of how to use tools.

There is evidence that octopus do use tools. See http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/12/091214-octopus-carries-coconuts-coconut-carrying/ http://scienceblogs.com/notrocketscience/2009/12/14/octopus-carries-around-coconut-shells-as-suits-of-armour/ http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/15/coconut-shell-octopus-tool-use

NEOWatcher
2012-Jul-24, 01:45 PM
There is evidence that octopus do use tools.
I don't know if finding something to use as a shelter constitutes tool usage. This is somthing that hermit crabs do too.
I think the intelligence of an octopus is better demonstrated by other feats such as unscrewing a jar.

primummobile
2012-Jul-24, 01:48 PM
There is evidence that octopus do use tools. See http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/12/091214-octopus-carries-coconuts-coconut-carrying/ http://scienceblogs.com/notrocketscience/2009/12/14/octopus-carries-around-coconut-shells-as-suits-of-armour/ http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/15/coconut-shell-octopus-tool-use

Yes, I think it's impressive. I've seen videos of them unscrewing the lids from jars.

swampyankee
2012-Jul-24, 03:12 PM
I don't know if finding something to use as a shelter constitutes tool usage. This is somthing that hermit crabs do too.
I think the intelligence of an octopus is better demonstrated by other feats such as unscrewing a jar.

Like I said, it may evidence of tool use, but you're right in that it's not unambiguous.

Swift
2012-Jul-24, 10:50 PM
The crows found this extremely entertaining so they would then go and steal another golf ball just to watch the crazy apes storm over waving their sticks and screaming.

He advised ignoring the birds when they stole golf balls and management quickly spread the word. Sure enough the behaviour stopped.

Does a sense of humour count as intelligence?
Personally (but unscientifically) I would count humor as a sign of intelligence.

Along those lines, there is a story about Washoe, the first chimp taught ASL (American Sign Language). Toward the end of her life she was retired and living in a primate center, housed next to the habitat of some type of small monkey who was very noisy. One of her old "teachers" came to visit and was talking with her. When asked about the monkey next door, she signed a sign meaning I have to use the bathroom and the sign for monkey. So, she was calling her neighbor a "poopy" monkey. Any animal that can curse is surely intelligent.

filrabat
2012-Jul-25, 12:18 AM
There's a David Attenborough video on youtube about crows in Japan grabbing nuts they normally cannot eat. They grab the nut, drop it on a road near a street light, and let the cars run over the nut, thereby cracking it. After the car's tire cracks open the nut, they wait for the traffic to stop so they can fly down and grab the nut's contents safely. That's proof positive that Crows (and Corvids in general) are quite intelligent birds.

starcanuck64
2012-Jul-25, 12:21 AM
There's been some interesting work with Grey Parrots and interspecies communication.

http://www.linguistics.pomona.edu/lcs11fall04/readings/pepperberg.pdf

If you go down to Model/Rival Training, it shows how Grey Parrots can learn to label objects in english by watching two people demonstrate the proper terms and pronounciation. For rewards they can receive the labeled object or request another.

Swift
2012-Jul-25, 02:27 AM
There's been some interesting work with Grey Parrots and interspecies communication.

http://www.linguistics.pomona.edu/lcs11fall04/readings/pepperberg.pdf

If you go down to Model/Rival Training, it shows how Grey Parrots can learn to label objects in english by watching two people demonstrate the proper terms and pronounciation. For rewards they can receive the labeled object or request another.
Yes (ToSeeked (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php/136581-Bird-brain-intelligence?p=2043696#post2043696))
But thanks for the paper.

JCoyote
2012-Jul-25, 05:17 AM
Crows and Ravens do show significant intelligence, however they can also be rather long lived. Without more info on how bird intelligence develops, there could be some correlation to them simply living long enough to study and experiment with the world enough to develop unique solutions. Other birds might not be any worse year against year, they just die too soon.

quotation
2012-Jul-25, 02:34 PM
A spirited discussion of this subject broke out at the boatyard last night where one and all have experienced both smart, and not so smart birds around here. On the not so bright side we have something of a refuge here for "store-bought" mallards, who having survived the shooting season, gather round and while proving very entertaining in their social lives, nevertheless fail certain Darwinian tests, namely laying eggs without benefit of a nest, and not appearing to know what an egg is other than some kind of obstruction to be cleared. Such ineptitude proves a treat to the crows, who peck a small hole in the eggs (enough to get their beaks into) rise a few feet in the air then drop the egg to reveal its protein-rich content. While wondering what made the crows so smart, inevitably the old saw arose that humans are only using 10% of their brains, whereas it would seem the crows are actually utilizing a much higher percentage per given size, which in turn raised the question as to whether size really matters, and speculation as to what wonders humans might be capable of were we able to emulate such efficiency.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-25, 04:15 PM
While wondering what made the crows so smart, inevitably the old saw arose that humans are only using 10% of their brains, whereas it would seem the crows are actually utilizing a much higher percentage per given size, which in turn raised the question as to whether size really matters, and speculation as to what wonders humans might be capable of were we able to emulate such efficiency.

Unfortunately that "old saw" is an urban legend, long disproven.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_percent_of_brain_myth
http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/10percent.asp

starcanuck64
2012-Jul-25, 05:21 PM
Yes (ToSeeked (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php/136581-Bird-brain-intelligence?p=2043696#post2043696))
But thanks for the paper.

I looked to see if it had been posted already but apparently not close enough.

quotation
2012-Jul-25, 05:54 PM
Unfortunately that "old saw" is an urban legend, long disproven.
You know that and I know that, but 'round these parts, where folks still name children after Andrew Jackson, and have a hard time believing we ever landed on the moon (don't even bother to bring up evolution) the big brain idea still has some currency (we still have one ol' chap on the island who practices phrenology, or as he calls it, "free-najin"). Combine that with the fact that we really don't know how crows (for one) do seem to pack so much into so little area, and one (me) quickly learns to hold one's tongue when it becomes obvious that no persuasion can cure belief.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-25, 09:03 PM
You know that and I know that, but 'round these parts, where folks still name children after Andrew Jackson, and have a hard time believing we ever landed on the moon (don't even bother to bring up evolution) the big brain idea still has some currency (we still have one ol' chap on the island who practices phrenology, or as he calls it, "free-najin"). Combine that with the fact that we really don't know how crows (for one) do seem to pack so much into so little area, and one (me) quickly learns to hold one's tongue when it becomes obvious that no persuasion can cure belief.

I can understand that. I've had to learn to bite my tongue about certain opinions since I moved to the Bible Belt.

Cosmologist
2012-Jul-26, 02:30 PM
http://www.hawkbirdscarer.com/problembirds_crows.php

Apparently golf ball theft by crows is quite common. Sorry but I couldn't find anything in search engines about it. Was a few years ago. Think it was a call in so theres no way to verify if it was true.

brianok
2012-Aug-06, 11:00 AM
I saw a crow approach a discarded bag of potato chips. The crow picked up the bag from the bottom and poured out the remaining chips from bottom of the bag.
A quick small meal.
The crow did this so quickly that it obviously had lots of experience with discarded bags of chips.

Swift
2014-Dec-18, 09:13 PM
Latest on crow intelligence from Laboratory Equipment (http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/12/crows-are-even-smarter-thought?et_cid=4326366&et_rid=54636800&type=cta)


Crows have long been heralded for their high intelligence — they can remember faces, use tools and communicate in sophisticated ways.

But a newly published study finds crows also have the brain power to solve higher-order, relational-matching tasks, and they can do so spontaneously. That means crows join humans, apes and monkeys in exhibiting advanced relational thinking, according to the research.


"Crows Spontaneously Exhibit Analogical Reasoning," which was published today in Current Biology, was written by Wasserman and Anna Smirnova, Zoya Zorina and Tanya Obozova, researchers with the Department of Biology at Lomonosov Moscow State Univ. in Moscow, Russia, where the study was conducted.

Once the crows has been trained on identity matching-to-sample, the researchers moved to the second phase of the experiment. This time, the birds were assessed with relational matching pairs of items.

These relational matching trials were arranged in such a way that neither test pairs precisely matched the sample pair, thereby eliminating control by physical identity. For example, the crows might have to choose two same-sized circles rather than two different-sized circles when the sample card displayed two same-sized squares.

What surprised the researchers was not only that the crows could correctly perform the relational matches, but that they did so spontaneously — without explicit training.

"That is the crux of the discovery," Wasserman says. "Honestly, if it was only by brute force that the crows showed this learning, then it would have been an impressive result. But this feat was spontaneous."

Still the researchers acknowledge that the crows' relational matching behavior did not come without some background knowledge.

"Indeed, we believe that their earlier IMTS (identity matching-to-sample) training is likely to have enabled them to grasp a broadly applicable concept of sameness that could apply to novel two-item samples and test stimuli involving only relational sameness," the researchers wrote. "Just how that remarkable transfer is accomplished represents an intriguing matter for future study."

Anthony Wright, neurobiology and anatomy professor at the Univ. of Texas-Houston Medical School, says the discovery ranks on par with demonstrations of tool use by some birds, including crows.

Buttercup
2014-Dec-18, 09:58 PM
I think my sister's got it. :rofl:

Inclusa
2014-Dec-19, 06:47 AM
Crows and Ravens do show significant intelligence, however they can also be rather long lived. Without more info on how bird intelligence develops, there could be some correlation to them simply living long enough to study and experiment with the world enough to develop unique solutions. Other birds might not be any worse year against year, they just die too soon.

Have you forgotten African grey parrots, Macaws and cockatoos? Sometimes these live into their 70s!

Roger E. Moore
2018-Oct-25, 01:52 PM
I want a New Caledonian crow to do my housework. I think we all do. Where can I get one? New Caledonia?


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181024112201.htm

New Caledonian crows can create compound tools

The birds are able to combine individual parts to form a long-distance reaching aid
Date:October 24, 2018 Source:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

An international team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and the University of Oxford have revealed that New Caledonian crows are able to create tools by combining two or more otherwise non-functional elements, an ability so far observed only in humans and great apes.

The new study shows that these birds can create long-reaching tools out of short combinable parts -- an astonishing mental feat. Assemblage of different components into novel functional and manoeuvrable tools has, until now, only been observed in apes, and anthropologists regard early human compound tool manufacture as a significant step in brain evolution. Children take several years before creating novel tools, probably because it requires anticipating properties of yet unseen objects. Such anticipation, or planning, is usually interpreted as involving creative mental modelling and executive functions.

The study demonstrates that this species of crow possess highly flexible abilities that allow them to solve complex problems involving anticipation of the properties of objects they have never seen. 'The finding is remarkable because the crows received no assistance or training in making these combinations, they figured it out by themselves,' says Auguste von Bayern, first author of the study from the Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology and University of Oxford.

===============

http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-33458-z

Compound tool construction by New Caledonian crows
(complete article in HTML)
A. M. P. von Bayern, S. Danel, A. M. I. Auersperg, B. Mioduszewska & A. Kacelnik
Scientific Reportsvolume 8, Article number: 15676 (2018)

Strange
2018-Oct-25, 02:02 PM
If they can do this, they have probably also figured out economics and so you might not be able to afford their pay rates.

Swift
2018-Oct-25, 02:10 PM
One of our longer past discussions on this topic. (https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthread.php?136581-Bird-brain-intelligence)

Roger E. Moore
2018-Oct-25, 02:11 PM
One of our longer past discussions on this topic. (https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthread.php?136581-Bird-brain-intelligence)

I am okay with merging these two threads. Did not know of the earlier one.

Swift
2018-Oct-25, 02:23 PM
I am okay with merging these two threads. Did not know of the earlier one.
Done

Roger E. Moore
2019-Jan-09, 05:10 PM
Paper title says it all. We need to get some of these crows as research assistants.


https://phys.org/news/2019-01-caledonian-crows-infer-weight.html

New Caledonian crows found able to infer weight of an object by watching how it behaves in the wind

January 9, 2019 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report

Swift
2019-Jan-09, 06:54 PM
As somewhat of an aside, I just finished reading "Ravenmaster" by Chris Skaife, the Ravenmaster for the Tower of London (NPR story (https://www.npr.org/2018/10/14/656882213/the-ravenmaster-is-definitely-there-for-the-birds)). I loved it. Interesting, personal take on ravens, including their intelligence.

Roger E. Moore
2019-Jan-11, 05:44 PM
If your talking parrot orders ice cream from Amazon.com using Alexa, are you legally responsible for the purchase? Yes, you probably are.


https://phys.org/news/2019-01-alexa-lawyer-legally-liable-virtual.html

'Alexa, call my lawyer!' Are you legally liable if someone makes a purchase using your virtual assistant?
January 11, 2019 by Mark Giancaspro, The Conversation

When Amazon launched its Alexa virtual assistant in 2014, it probably didn't think that a bird would expose a potentially significant legal issue with the device. But an African grey parrot named Rocco, living in Blewbury, England, appears to have done just that. Last month, Rocco made headlines for his habit of secretly ordering goods through his owner's voice-activated Alexa device, which charges purchases to the linked Amazon account. The African grey species, which is renowned for its ability to mimic human speech, successfully ordered fruit, vegetables, ice-cream, a kettle, light bulbs and a kite.

Swift
2019-Jan-11, 06:21 PM
:lol:

I'm sure they can pay for it with the recordings of the parrot ordering stuff; should be good for several thousands hits at least.

Roger E. Moore
2019-Jan-23, 02:43 PM
It helps bird intelligence, perhaps, that they see much better than we do, as they see into the UV.


https://phys.org/news/2019-01-unique-camera-enables-world-birds.html

Unique camera enables researchers to see the world the way birds do
January 23, 2019, Lund University

Using a specially designed camera, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have succeeded for the first time in recreating how birds see colours in their surroundings. The study reveals that birds see a very different reality compared to what we see.

Human colour vision is based on the three primary colours, red, green and blue. The colour vision of birds is based on the same three coloursóbut also ultraviolet. Biologists at Lund have now shown that the fourth primary colour of birds, ultraviolet, means that they see the world in a completely different way. Among other things, birds see contrasts in dense forest foliage, whereas people only see a wall of green.

"What appears to be a green mess to humans consists of clearly distinguishable leaves for birds. No one knew about this until this study," says Dan-Eric Nilsson, professor at the Department of Biology at Lund University.

Swift
2019-Jan-23, 03:30 PM
Interesting article, but I don't think better UV vision has an impact on intelligence. I think universally the more social birds (and the more social other animals) are the most intelligent. I haven't seen any correlation between vision and intelligence.

Roger E. Moore
2019-Jan-23, 04:33 PM
Interesting article, but I don't think better UV vision has an impact on intelligence. I think universally the more social birds (and the more social other animals) are the most intelligent. I haven't seen any correlation between vision and intelligence.

Well, I'm severely myopic, so...


Let's pretend this never happened.

Swift
2019-Jan-23, 06:08 PM
Well, I'm severely myopic, so...

Which would imply that bad vision correlates with high intelligence, not good vision. ;)