One of my personal favorite animal videos:
Hahaha, I could watch videos like that all day. Here's my dog video thread.
On a bit more serious note, I've always found cetacean (dolphin in particular) intelligence to be fascinating. There is still so much to be learned about these awesome animals, and I have a feeling that there is definitely more than meets the eye. Here's a video of a news reporter doing a short story on them:
(couldn't embed this one)
I've not seen that video, but I am familiar with that research. I have two bones to pick though about people and their assumptions about animal intelligence. First, we always act so surprised when we find out that animals are both thinking and feeling creatures. There are all kinds of intelligence, and if natural selection means that those that adapt are the ones who survive, then we can rightly say that every living thing on the earth is nearly perfectly adapted to its environment -- or else it wouldn't be here now! See umwelt for an intersting tangental topic on this.
Second, just because an animal does not seem to be able to recognize itself in a mirror, that does not mean that it IS NOT self aware. Dogs don't seem to be able to pass the mirror test, but what if their self-recognition is not visual, but rather olfactory? What if they recognize themselves by smell? Or what if birds could recognize themselves by sound?
Interesting points, I like the Umwelt concept as well. Earth's ecosystems certainly can teach us a thing or two about harmony. And yes, there all kinds of intelligence in the animal kingdom. One could even argue that the way plants communicate is a unique form of "intelligence."
My personal interest in dolphins is not because I see their brains as superior to those of other animals, but because I am interested in the way that they apply their intelligence. As a student of linguistics, I find their system of communication to be fascinating. Whether they possess what we could consider an actual language or not is still being debated, but regardless, it sparks my attention.
And again, just like with intelligence, you can argue the semantics of what self-awareness truly is. Certainly at least some animals can recognize themselves by their own smell. Isn't this what they are doing when marking their territory with urine/pheromones? Is this really self-awareness? I'm not really one to say though; I'll leave that to the cognitive psychologists and philosophers.
I can't find the book right now, but it seems to me I came across one that dealt with the chemical ways in which plants communicate and fight with one another. Interesting stuff. Something about plant chemical warfare.
Whether they possess what we could consider an actual language or not is still being debated, but regardless, it sparks my attention.
Well, I think it should be considered a language. It has to have structure, meaning, and be inheritbable or else it would be useless to the animal. See: Whales Have Accents and Regional Dialects: Biologists Interpret the Language of Sperm Whales.
Isn't this what they are doing when marking their territory with urine/pheromones? Is this really self-awareness?
Thanks Jeff. I requested the DVD from the library just now.