Monday, January 4, 2010

Finally, 'Noble' Prizes for animals

Emory psychologist Frans de Waal writes in the Huffington Post:

"Time has just chosen its "Man of the Year," whose intelligence was immediately questioned, so why not review some genuine, proven Einsteins, even if they are animals?

"Animals seem to be getting smarter all the time. Since 2000, discovery after discovery has put a dent in human uniqueness claims. At the start of the decade, most of us believed that only chimpanzees might come anywhere near our wonderful human intellect, but by 2010 we realize that also dogs, birds, monkeys, and elephants challenge the human-animal divide, which has begun to look like Swiss cheese."

De Waal goes on to list "10 Animal 'Noble' Prizes for Overall Smartness," topped by a juvenile chimpanzee who surpassed humans on a cognitive task. "This is my way of celebrating the end of a decade," de Waal explains, "which has been miserable in so many ways, but not for the field of animal cognition, which is on a roll!"


Do dolphins deserve special status?

Watch the video, above, on chimpanzee culture filmed at Emory's Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

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