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Unexpected displays of intelligence

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Knights View Drop Down
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    Posted: 23 Aug 2009 at 10:49
Good day to everyone! I haven't been overly active here in the Natural History forum, lately. So, I felt compelled to start a new interesting topic for us to discuss and share. This topic is about displays of intelligence by animals which aren't always regarded for being 'higher order' organisms - ie. we are not talking about humans inventing steam engines, chimps crafting tools...etc. Having said that though, this topic is essentially a free-for-all discussion, so there aren't really any strict confines Smile

I'll kick it off with one of my all-time favourite nature documentary segments (which many of you would already have heard of), which documents crows in Japan utilising traffic rules and cars to obtain a tasty snack.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGPGknpq3e0

This is a remarkable display of behavioural adaptation to the urban environment, and attests to the enduring opportunism and 'savvyness' even, of crows. Few animals can capitilise on the opportunities presented by an urban ecosystem, but those who are able to, have achieved great success. Crows are an excellent case in point, and I love to bring this instance up when discussing animal intelligence.

A major factor in this example is the crows acute observational skills and subsequent mimicry, which has established this behaviour as a 'culture'. Crows exhibit numerous other exceptional feats of intelligence, but I'll leave them for others to share, in this thread.

Greatly looking forward to your input!

Regards,

- Knights -

(Excuse any grammatical/spelling errors - in quite a mad rush!) Smile
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Carcharodon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Aug 2009 at 12:33
Thank you for the very amazing crow video.
 
Here is another example of smart birds. This heron, fishing with a bait, is a nice case of animals with a rather advanced behaviour:
 


Edited by Carcharodon - 23 Aug 2009 at 12:39
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2009 at 00:30
Here is a recent article about bees counting up to four :)
 
 
Apologies to those who can't have the full text article. Anyway the main idea was described in the abstract.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AksumVanguard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2009 at 06:38
I've always felt that Beavers display some intelligence for their dam building, take a look.

http://www.naturealmanac.com/archive/beaver_dams/beaver_dams.html


Why Beavers Build Dams

Castor canadensis

Beavers are busy.

This fact has been scientifically proven - and for most people this explains why beavers build dams. What else would a giant hyperactive stream dwelling aquatic rodent do to release all that busy- ness? But does this explain the beaver's odd behavior?

Otters, too, are busy, and they also live in streams, as do mink and muskrats and even some species of shrews and moles. Yet only beavers build dams. Fortunately there are people around who find this compulsive dam building behavior of beavers as troubling as I do and they decided to find out exactly why the beaver builds his dam.

Humans have always marveled at the beaver's ingenuity since he always picks the narrowest part of the stream for the site of his dam. This fact was always cited as proof of the beaver's intelligence and engineering skill. Yet even a modest acquaintance with beavers will soon reveal that they are far from cunning beasts. It was at this stage of the debate that a young grad student entered the scene and began to investigate.

Beaver Dam
Photo by Ruby Jung. All rights reserved

He noted that beavers living in ponds and lakes and along rivers never build dams - so this compulsive beaver barrier building business was not a result of their busy nature since non-dam building beavers found an outlet for their busy-ness in some way other than dam building. He therefore obtained several pairs of beavers (all with proven dam building track records), released them in different environments and then sat back and watched what they did.

Those released in ponds and large rivers burrowed into the bank, set up beaver housekeeping and then showed no more desire to construct anything beyond their holes. Those released along streams, however, found likely looking pools and then proceeded to deepen them by constructing dams at the narrow, shallow, downstream end. This set the investigator to thinking...

So he proceeded to a riffle (the shallow, high gradient part of the stream) and set up a tape recorder to tape the sound of the water rushing over the gravel and stones. He then set up speakers around known beaver haunts and at dusk turned the tape on.

Lo and behold when he returned the next morning he found the speakers buried under several feet of sticks, gravel and mud - thus effectively silencing the sound. The result was the same whether done along a beaver dammed stream, a large (and quiet) river or a lake or pond. The beavers always covered the speakers until they couldn't hear the sound of rushing water.

And the mystery was neatly solved! Based on experiments with both free living and captive beavers the researcher found that the sound of rushing water was as annoying to a beaver as the sound of fingernails on a blackboard is to humans. And that beavers will pile up sticks and mud in any spot they hear that sound until they can no longer hear it.

This explains in one go why beavers always pick the narrowest and most shallow section of stream to build their dams - it's because that's where the noise is. And they continue piling up sticks and mud in that spot until that annoying sound is silenced. In short, beavers build dams because they like peace and quiet.



w.naturealmanac.com/archive/beaver_dams/beaver_dams.html
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2009 at 07:29
^^I had to chuckle reading that.  Right sensible creatures those beavers.Wink  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SPQR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2009 at 17:37
Platypus are pretty sweet too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2009 at 18:00
How about a baboon railway signalman?
 
we have a blind date with destiny..and it looks like she's ordered the lobster
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AksumVanguard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2009 at 22:46
Originally posted by Justinian Justinian wrote:

^^I had to chuckle reading that.  Right sensible creatures those beavers.Wink  


Humans have always marveled at the beaver's ingenuity since he always picks the narrowest part of the stream for the site of his dam. 

Sensible,and too innovatiive for their own good. But as annoying as they are for some people you have to give credit to their cleverness.


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Knights View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Aug 2009 at 03:15
Wow! Some great input going on here, and so much to look at. I will endeavour to respond to everyone when I get the chance Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Aug 2009 at 09:04

My dog knows that he's supposed to bark at the neighbour my family doesn't get on with, so I'd call that....emotional intelligence.

 
One of my favourite kinds is the symbiotic relationships between plants and animals. Many many years ago, these two organisms happened to come across each other, and the relationship's been that good that every successive generation upholds it! It's great.
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