The Animal Mind Is More Complex Than Some Think

An influx of news headlines today give food for thought over the way we conceive (and treat) animals. One can only wonder at how continued research in these areas might change the status of animals in future centuries - note the tone of the linked PDF in the story directly below.

Octopuses Gain Consciousness (According to Scientists’ Declaration)

Elephants cooperate to solve problems. Chimpanzees teach youngsters to make tools. Even octopuses seem to be able to plan. So should we humans really be surprised that “consciousness” probably does not only exist in us?

This privileged state of subjective awareness in fact goes well beyond Homo sapiens, according to the new Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (pdf), which was signed last month by a group of cognitive neuroscientists, computational neuroscientists, neuroanatomists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists who attended the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals at Cambridge University in the U.K.

“The weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness,” the scientists wrote. “Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

Bonobo genius makes stone tools like early humans did:

Kanzi the bonobo continues to impress. Not content with learning sign language or making up "words" for things like banana or juice, he now seems capable of making stone tools on a par with the efforts of early humans.

Curious Incident of a Dead Giraffe

A curious incident of a deceased giraffe has reopened the question of whether animals mourn their dead.

Zoologists have witnessed a giraffe mother investigating and refusing to leave the body of her dead calf, the third such incident on record.

Other social animals such as elephants and chimpanzees are known to investigate their dead, especially the bodies of their close relatives.

Such behaviour raises the prospect that animals have a "mental model" of death.

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emlong's picture
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18 September 2007
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21 hours 41 min

NatGeo images from Dorothy the Chimp's "funeral."

https://www.google.com/search?q=chimpanz...

LastLoup's picture
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6 April 2010
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1 day 11 hours

made me sob D:

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................

cnnek's picture
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28 June 2006
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3 years 33 weeks

Greg

I wish that more people understood this!

What do you think?

cnnek

{You Can Teach People How To Think Critically Or What To Think; But, You Can't Do Both! It Is Better To Teach People How To Think Critically!!!}

alanborky's picture
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29 January 2009
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2 years 47 weeks

The thing is though Greg it can be quite shocking how hostile people can be to the idea of sentience in animals.

A while back on British TV there was an advert using film of a squirrel undertaking fiendishly clever manoeuvres to get at the product concerned and a TV critic who normally gets his knickers in a twist over programs crediting even the remotest possibility of paranormal phenomena seemed far more steamed at the thought tree hugger types were being allowed to use trick photography and clever editing to sell the agenda humans were no better than animals.

It was a major paradigm shift when whites finally acknowledged blacks as equals in all regards.

Ditto men with women.

I suspect before alien vistors openly touch down on the White House lawn though human beings're probably go'n'o have to come to terms with the paradigm shift maybe even our own bowel bacteria're sentient and capable of their own equivalents of culture and language.

The overbearingly rich grasping they're no more relevant or important than the poor?

I'm not sure that'll ever happen.

emlong's picture
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18 September 2007
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A couple of years ago you might recall the story of the dolphin saving an injured surfer or something like that by nudging him to the beach. That story really riled up some of the more churlish skeptics. One of them responded with a story of some dolphins attacking and beating the hell out of a swimmer which he thought proved they weren't altruistic, but of course it was easy as pie to reply that such behavior reminds one of human behavior too. The skeptic had just performed the usual knee jerk gloss that dolphins were being hailed as religious or spiritual when in fact the surfer rescue story just illustrated that they could behave like humans sometimes and that didn't necessarily exclude unpleasant behavior. Many of the more loutish materialists I know are Skinnerians who don't believe human even act like humans (chuckle,)so they don't think any organism including humans are capable of personally disinterested altruism, so sometime one goes nowhere talking to these folks, but often the first misprision they commit is to assume that all anti-materialists are deluded tree huggers and posey sniffers, i.e. they make assumptions about motive that are incorrect, patronizing, and shallow.

red pill junkie's picture
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12 April 2007
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We can very easily switch the argument, and wonder if the real reason a flying saucer hasn't landed on the White House lawn, is because there's still an open debate among the members of the Galactic Council whether humans are truly conscious beings or not.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

emlong's picture
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Yes, of course. I used to read a lot of UFO literature - mostly so called abductions. The general drift was that humans were in the process of breaking through to a more galactic consciousness but that they had quite a ways to go yet.
Jim Sparks' story about his ordeal learning a higher grammar from some ET's is fascinating. He really got put through the wringer trying to approach the ET level of communication. It was vastly more compact and meaningful than our current languages. The ET's were essentially strapping him down and rapping him on the knuckles when his attention flagged. When he had been a good doggy and absorbed his lesson the reward would be for them to answer Spark's questions about their race.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Keepers-Alien-...