Animals Capable of More Than Stupid Animal Tricks

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

Animals Capable of More Than Stupid Animal Tricks


Byline: Associated Press

Monkeys perform mental math, pigeons can select the picture that doesnAEt belong. Humans may not be the only animals that plan for the future, say researchers reporting on the latest studies of animal mental ability.

"I suggest we humans should keep our egos in check," Edward A. Wasserman of the University of Iowa said Thursday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Wasserman, a professor of experimental psychology, said that pigeons and baboons were able to tell which pictures showed similar items, like triangles or dots, and which showed different items. This is the definition of a concept, he said, "and the animals passed it with flying colors."

He spoke at a symposium on "Animal Smarts," where researchers discussed the latest findings in the mental abilities of animals.

In the last 20 years there has been a major revolution in the understanding of animals, added Nicola S. Clayton, a professor of comparative cognition at the University of Cambridge in England.

Animals not only use tools, there is evidence some of them save tools for future use.

"Planning ahead was once thought to be unique to humans," Clayton said. …

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Animals Capable of More Than Stupid Animal Tricks
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