The Smartest Animals on the Planet

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-02-15
  • Publisher: Firefly Books Ltd
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How animals communicate and learn -- sometimes better than humans do, actually.This fascinating book, written by a world authority on animal intelligence, brings together the cumulative research on the comparative intelligence levels of nonhuman "smart" species. Sally Boysen reveals how these intelligent animals communicate, learn behavior, show feelings and emotions and, for some species, how they use tools, count and sometimes pick up a foreign language.Fully illustrated with photographs and step-by-step graphics, the book draws on data from historical and current experiments and observations to examine intelligence in the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans) and in a surprising list of other species, including sea otters, eagles, elephants, dolphins, birds, bees, beetles, rats, raccoons and parrots.The book's chapters are:Comparing Animal Skills and Intelligence Animal Tool Use Communication in Animals Imitation and Social Learning Social Cognition and Emotion Self-recognition and Awareness Numerical Abilities in Animals Animals and Human Nonverbal Language.The Smartest Animals on the Planet is a beautiful, authoritative and up-to-date presentation on the remarkable intelligence of the animal kingdom.

Table of Contents

About this book
Using Tools
Woodpecker finches probe with sticks
New Caledonian crows hook a treat
Captive crows show talent for tool use
Sea otters hammer their way to a meal
Sea sponges provide padded protection
Naked mole-rats protect their assests
Why elephants use switches
The wild chimp's toolkit
Use of spears by wild chimpanzees
Sumatrans get to grips with tools
Wild gorillas stun researchers
Wild capuchins adapt tool use to suit their environment
Innovations with tools in captive capuchins
Tool use in captive chimps
Dance language of honeybees
Ground squirrels look out for their own
Wild vervet monkey "smart" alarms
Baboons: kings of expression
Diana monkeys spread the news
Wild chimpazees: masters of communication
Signature whistles in dolphins
Whales can really carry a tune
Can elephants hear through their feet?
Imitation and Social Learning
Monkey see, monkey do?
Jungle copy cats
Birdbrained is best
The great ape debate
Ape culture?
Mirror Self-Recognition
Chimps use mirrors like we do - to see how they look
Dolphins give themselves admiring glances
It's rude to stare - gorillas don't give mirrors a second glance
Elephants get the idea - with a very big mirror
Numerical Abilities
The case of "Clever Hans"
You can count on an ant to find its way home
Lions show roar talent
Birds: the number crunchers
Rats that can count
Salamanders prefer more
Young chimps learn to count
Animal Language Studies
Can you really teach a chimp to speak?
How a chimp learned sign language
Chimps and humans: do two great brains think alike?
Ask a dolphin and you'll get the right answer
Koko, the only gorillas to learn sign language
Is he smart, or just parroting what he's heard?
A young chimp keeps her answers in order
An orangutan learns to sign
Rocky, the sea lion with a logical approach
Cooperation and Altruism
"I'll scratch your back now, if you'll scratch my back later"
Chimps "kiss and make up" after a fight
Yawn and the world yawns with you - empathetic responses
A dog's dinner is a shared affair
Working together - is it teamwork or just a bunch of animals?
Monkeys are quick to spot an unfair deal
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.


Foreword My interest in animal intelligence grew from my love of animals when I was in elementary school. A voracious reader, I devoured every book about animals at our local library, and even at a very young age, my goal was to become a veterinarian for zoo animals. My particular love was for the great apes - especially orangutans and chimpanzees. However, my first college course in ethology, or animal behavior, rather than animal medicine, changed everything. I soon realized that what animals were doing was much more exciting to learn about. The particular research direction that I chose, the study of chimpanzee cognitive abilities, has included experiments designed to explore chimpanzee numerical skills, their understanding of scale models and the ability to demonstrate an understanding of causality when using tools. Even after 35 years of working with chimpanzees, their minds and behavior still hold the same fascination for me that they did when I was 7. My hope for this book is that it will arouse similar excitement in the reader and pique their curiosity about many animal species, each with their own unique capacities that reflect a measure of intelligence. For some animals, this will be easy to see simply by using an understanding of your own behavior and skills for comparison. More challenging may be the abilities of more distant and less well-known species that require more thoughtful consideration of how their natural habitat may have contributed to specialized behaviors that are "smart" for their particular environment. Consider what you read to be merely a drop of water in a sea of newly discovered knowledge and remarkable findings about all the other smart animals on the planet!About This Book This book is organized into seven chapters: Using tools, Communication, Imitation and Social Learning, Mirror Self-recognition, Numerical Abilities, Animal Language Studies, Cooperation and Altruism. Each chapter looks at the various species of animals that have shown particular skills and talents in these specific areas and describes the processes researchers use to observe and detect these signs of intelligence. Introduction In the introduction, learn how scientists define and search for intelligence in animals. Fascinating Facts Interesting facts about the animals in the book provide background information on how they live Maps A map on each article shows where in the world each animal lives in the wild. Step-By-Step Diagrams Step-by-step diagrams demonstrate in detail the behaviors of smart animals and the experiments used to test them.Introduction What exactly is meant by "the world's smartest animals," and how can we judge an animal's intelligence when academics can't even agree on the nature of human intelligence? Ultimately, human intelligence seems to reflect whatever is measure in an intelligence test, and that's a far from satisfying definition. It may be that defining animal intelligence is more a case of comparing one species with another or with human beings, using our experience, observations and common sense. It just appears obvious that a capuchin monkey is probably smarter than a grasshopper, but note that the comparison is based on the abilities that we perceive a monkey to share with humans. Perhaps this type of "species-centric" focus is inevitable, since as humans we are most familiar with our own behavior. But what drives our own thinking and behavior and, in turn, our intelligence? Animal and human intelligence Based on current understanding of the human brain - a 3 lb (1.4 kg) extraordinarily complex, gelatinous blob of tissue that manages our every living moment - we know that an array of neural mechanisms and information - processing capacities provide us with enormous potential for learning and behavioural flexibility. Some scientists believe that our intellectual capacities are distinctly di

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