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robertogreco : chimpanzees   16

Animals with Cameras | About | Nature | PBS
"Go where no human cameraman can go and witness a new perspective of the animal kingdom in Animals with Cameras, A Nature Miniseries. The new three-part series journeys into animals’ worlds using custom, state-of-the-art cameras worn by the animals themselves. Capturing never-before-seen behavior, these animal cinematographers help expand human understanding of their habitats and solve mysteries that have eluded scientists until now.

Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan and a team of pioneering animal behaviorists join forces to explore stories of animal lives “told” by the animals themselves. The cameras are built custom by camera design expert Chris Watts to fit on the animals unobtrusively and to be easily removed at a later point. From this unique vantage point, experience the secret lives of nine different animal species. Sprint across the savanna with a cheetah, plunge into the ocean with a seal and swing through the trees with a chimpanzee."

"Episode 1 premieres Wednesday, January 31 at 8-9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
The astonishing collar-camera footage reveals newborn Kalahari Meerkats below ground for the first time, unveils the hunting skills of Magellanic penguins in Argentina, and follows the treetop progress of an orphaned chimpanzee in Cameroon.

[http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/animals-cameras-episode-1/15926/ ]

Episode 2 premieres Wednesday, February 7 at 8-9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
The cameras capture young cheetahs learning to hunt in Namibia, reveal how fur seals of an Australian island evade the great white sharks offshore, and help solve a conflict between South African farmers and chacma baboons.

Episode 3 premieres Wednesday, February 14 at 8-9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
Deep-dive with Chilean devil rays in the Azores, track brown bears’ diets in Turkey, and follow dogs protecting flocks of sheep from gray wolves in Southern France."

[See also:
http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-42660492
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09qqqgr ]
animals  cameras  cameraencounters  video  photography  morethanhuman  nature  multispecies  2018  meerkats  wildlife  dogs  sheep  namibia  chile  argntina  cameroon  chimpanzees  kalahari  cheetahs  southafrica  australia  sharks  seals  faming  baboons  bears  turkey  rays  classideas  pov 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Tour the Treetops from a Chimp's Point of View - YouTube
"The three-part miniseries "Animals with Cameras" airs Wednesdays, Jan 31-Feb 14 on PBS. Check local listings. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/animals-cameras-nature-mini-series/15860/

Kimbang is a four-year-old female chimp who had a difficult start in life. Poachers killed her mother and she's had to learn how to be a chimp from human caregivers. Donning a wearable camera, Kimbang climbs high amongst the treetops and reveals what exactly she's been snacking on. Will this prove she's ready for the wild?"
chimps  chimpanzees  animals  primates  multispecies  morethanhuman  cameras  cameraencounters  photography  video  classideas  2018  nature 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Human cumulative culture: a comparative perspective [.pdf]
"Lewis G. Dean, Gill L. Vale, Kevin N. Laland, Emma Flynn and Rachel L. Kendal"

"Many animals exhibit social learning and behavioural traditions, but human culture exhibits unparalleled complexity and diversity, and is unambiguously cumulative in character. These similarities and differences have spawned a debate over whether animal traditions and human culture are reliant on homologous or analogous psychological processes. Human cumulative culture combines high-fidelity transmission of cultural knowledge with beneficial modifications to generate a ‘ratcheting’ in technological complexity, leading to the development of traits far more complex than one individual could invent alone. Claims have been made for cumulative culture in several species of animals, including chimpanzees, orangutans and New Caledonian crows, but these remain contentious. Whilst initial work on the topic of cumulative culture was largely theoretical, employing mathematical methods developed by population biologists, in recent years researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, biology, economics, biological anthropology, linguistics and archaeology, have turned their attention to the experimental investigation of cumulative culture. We review this literature, highlighting advances made in understanding the underlying processes of cumulative culture and emphasising areas of agreement and disagreement amongst investigators in separate fields."
lewisden  gillvale  kevinlaland  emmaflynn  rachelkendal  2013  culture  animals  human  humans  anthropology  biology  crows  corvids  multispecies  psychology  economics  cumulativeculture  apes  chimpanzees  orangutans  linguistics  archaeology  morethanhuman 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Self-Medicating Animal - The New York Times
"What can we learn from chimps and sheep and maybe even insects that practice medicine on themselves?"



"Animals of all kinds, from ants and butterflies to sheep and monkeys, use medicine. Certain caterpillars will, when infected by parasitic flies, eat poisonous plants, killing or arresting the growth of the larvae within them. Some ants incorporate resin from spruce trees in their nests to fend off pathogenic microbes, employing the same antibacterial compounds, called terpenes, that we use when we mop the floor with the original Pine-Sol. Parrots and many other animals consume clay to treat an upset stomach; clay binds to toxins, flushing them out of the body. “I believe every species alive today is self-medicating in one way or another,” Huffman told me recently. “It’s just a fact of life.”

Capuchin monkeys use poisonous millipedes and citrus as insect repellent. With howler monkeys, self-medication may veer into social engineering. Ken Glander, an emeritus scientist at Duke, thinks that female howlers sometimes seek out foods that change the acidity of their reproductive organs after mating. By changing the pH balance, he told me, these females may promote the success of male over female sperm, resulting in more male offspring. Should one of those males rise in a troop and sire many children, his mother’s genes are also spread with them.

Is what seems to be self-medication simply another instinctual behavior, like the urge to procreate or eat when hungry? Or is it a skill that animals acquire through experience? Most scientists I spoke to pointed out, almost bashfully, that natural selection could produce self-medicating behaviors without the humanlike learning and sharing of expertise that we associate with medical treatment. Animals that happen to eat medicinal plants at the right time might survive more successfully than those that don’t, causing that behavior to spread.

Smaller-brained animals, like caterpillars and ants, are probably self-medicating as a matter of instinct. Even monkeys, with their larger brains, seem to use insect repellents automatically: some drool, writhe and fall into what looks like a trance whenever they encounter a millipede. And yet sheep, which are often considered dimwitted compared to primates, seemingly learn from experience what medicinal plants to draw on and when. There appears to be no hard line in our imagined hierarchy of the animal kingdom, below which self-medication is instinctive and above which medicinal behavior derives from learning.

Chimps and other great apes differ, of course, from many other animals. They have culture that we recognize as such — and Huffman considers medical knowledge part of that cultural inheritance. Young chimps closely watch what their mothers eat, and he suspects that this is how they learn what plants to make them better. Chimps in other troops chew different plants than Chausiku did, suggesting that their medicinal knowledge is specific to their environs, not hard-wired. But not everyone thinks the science is settled.

Moreover, it’s still unclear how an infant watching its mother learns to associate bitter-tasting plants with physical relief, given that the mother, not the infant, is the one experiencing it and that the effect may not be felt until a day or more after dosing. “That’s the puzzle,” the well-known primatologist and author Frans de Waal told me. And how do they discover medicinal plants to begin with, particularly given their usual bitter taste? “It doesn’t sound logical to me,” he said, “but it must have happened, because we see animals flock to certain resources when they’re sick.”"



"It’s worth considering the ways that animals, precisely because of their more limited intellects, might be more doggedly scientific than we are. After all, while animals seem to attend closely to cause and effect, learning from experience, people sometimes indulge a penchant for spinning out grand theories from scant (or no) evidence and then acting on them. Bloodletting, for example, persisted for hundreds of years in Europe even though it almost certainly weakened and killed the sick. It was based on the ancient humoral theory of disease: Illness arose when the body’s “humors,” or essential fluids, were out of harmony, an imbalance corrected by draining blood, among other acts. Other ineffectual and even dangerous treatments include smoking to treat asthma and sexual intercourse with virgins as a cure for syphilis.

Animals no doubt blunder in their attempts to self-medicate. But humans seem to be unique in their capacity for clinging to beliefs and theories about the world, even when facing evidence that refutes them. Consider those religious sects that refuse modern medicine altogether, favoring prayer instead, and whose believers sometimes die as a result. Chausiku and her kind would probably never err in this way, simply because the medicine that chimps practice derives from what they’ve learned through trial and error, not from untested explanations for how the world works.

Historically, some currents within evidence-based medicine — treatment rigorously based on what has been shown to work — can be regarded as tacit recognition of this human shortcoming. Even modern doctors, with their years of training and conditioning, can find it hard not to venture beyond the evidence or get carried away in extrapolations. In a way, the evidence-based mantra is partly an exhortation to be more animal-like. Don’t rely too heavily on theories, assumptions or grand cosmological narratives. Instead, be empirical and focus on what’s right in front of you"
multispecies  animals  nature  wildlife  biomimicry  moisesvelasquez-manoff  2017  medicine  insects  sheep  chimpanzees  instinct  self-medication  michaelhuffman  biomimetics 
may 2017 by robertogreco
CM 048: Dacher Keltner on the Power Paradox
"Is there a secret to lasting power? Yes, and Dacher Keltner has been teaching leaders about it for decades. And the secret is not the ruthless, manipulative approach associated with 15th-century politician and writer Niccolo Machiavelli. It is actually the opposite.

As a University of California, Berkeley, Professor of Psychology, and Founder and Director of the Greater Good Science Center, Dacher Keltner shares research-based insights he has gained. And in his latest book, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence, he discusses a new science of power and 20 guiding power principles.

In this interview, we talk about:

• How the legacy of Niccolo Machiavelli continues to inform power
• Why power is about so much more than dominance, manipulation, and ruthlessness
• Why we need to question a coercive model of power
• The short- versus long-term impact of different kinds of power
• Why power is about lifting others up
• Why lasting power is given, not grabbed
• The important role that reputation, gossip and esteem play in who gains power
• How, within days, group members already know who holds the power
• What makes for enduring power
• How our body language and words speak volumes about power
• Why Abraham Lincoln is a fascinating study of empathetic power
• The fact that great and powerful leaders are incredible storytellers
• How feeling powerful makes us less aware of risk
• How feeling powerful makes us less empathetic, attentive and responsive to others
• How feeling powerful actually overrides the part of our brain that signals empathy
• How drivers of more expensive cars (46 percent) tend to ignore pedestrians
• How powerful people often tell themselves stories to justify hierarchies
• The price we pay for powerlessness
• Concrete ways we can cultivate enduring, empathetic power
• Gender and power
• Why the key to parenting is to empower children to have a voice in the world

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned [all linked within]

Dacher Keltner
Greater Good Science Center
Frans de Waal
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Thomas Clarkson and the abolition movement
Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan
House of Cards
The 100-Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
What Works by Iris Bohnet
Arturo Behar and Facebook
Greater Good in Action
Science of Happiness course on edX"
dacherkeltner  power  hierarchy  machiavelli  influence  paradox  coercion  2016  thomasclarkson  abolition  slavery  history  greatergoodsciencecenter  resistance  ericchenoweth  mariastephan  houseofcards  andrewscott  lyndagratton  irisbohnet  arturobejar  fransdewaal  chimpanzees  primates  privilege  superiority  psychology  empathy  class  poverty  wealth  inequality  poor  happiness  humility  altruism  respect  sfsh  leadership  administration  parenting  friendship  dignity  workplace  horizontality  sharing  generosity  powerlessness  recognition  racism  gender  prestige  socialintelligence  empowerment 
august 2016 by robertogreco
What People Can Learn From How Animals Think - The Atlantic
"As de waal recognizes, a better way to think about other creatures would be to ask ourselves how different species have developed different kinds of minds to solve different adaptive problems. Surely the important question is not whether an octopus or a crow can do the same things a human can, but how those animals solve the cognitive problems they face, like how to imitate the sea floor or make a tool with their beak. Children and chimps and crows and octopuses are ultimately so interesting not because they are mini-mes, but because they are aliens—not because they are smart like us, but because they are smart in ways we haven’t even considered. All children, for example, pretend with a zeal that seems positively crazy; if we saw a grown-up act like every 3-year-old does, we would get him to check his meds.

Sometimes studying those alien ways of knowing can illuminate adult-human cognition. Children’s pretend play may help us understand our adult taste for fiction. De Waal’s research provides another compelling example. We human beings tend to think that our social relationships are rooted in our perceptions, beliefs, and desires, and our understanding of the perceptions, beliefs, and desires of others—what psychologists call our “theory of mind.” In the ’80s and ’90s, developmental psychologists, including me, showed that preschoolers and even infants understand minds apart from their own. But it was hard to show that other animals did the same. “Theory of mind” became a candidate for the special, uniquely human trick.

Yet de Waal’s studies show that chimps possess a remarkably developed political intelligence—they are profoundly interested in figuring out social relationships such as status and alliances. (A primatologist friend told me that even before they could stand, the baby chimps he studied would use dominance displays to try to intimidate one another.) It turns out, as de Waal describes, that chimps do infer something about what other chimps see. But experimental studies also suggest that this happens only in a competitive political context. The evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare and his colleagues gave a subordinate chimp a choice between pieces of food that a dominant chimp had seen hidden and other pieces it had not seen hidden. The subordinate chimp, who watched all the hiding, stayed away from the food the dominant chimp had seen, but took the food it hadn’t seen.

Anyone who has gone to an academic conference will recognize that we, too, are profoundly political creatures. We may say that we sign up because we’re eager to find out what our fellow Homo sapiens think, but we’re just as interested in who’s on top and where the alliances lie. Many of the political judgments we make there don’t have much to do with our theory of mind. We may defer to a celebrity-academic silverback even if we have no respect for his ideas. In Jane Austen, Elizabeth Bennet cares how people think, while Lady Catherine cares only about how powerful they are, but both characters are equally smart and equally human."



"Even if the differences between us and our nearest animal relatives are quantitative rather than qualitative—a matter of dialing up some cognitive capacities and downplaying others—they can have a dramatic impact overall. A small variation in how much you rely on theory of mind to understand others as opposed to relying on a theory of status and alliances can exert a large influence in the long run of biological and cultural evolution.

Finally, de Waal’s book prompts some interesting questions about how emotion and reason mix in the scientific enterprise. The quest to understand the minds of animals and children has been a remarkable scientific success story. It inevitably has a moral, and even political, dimension as well. The challenge of studying creatures that are so different from us is to get into their heads, to imagine what it is like to be a bat or a bonobo or a baby. A tremendous amount of sheer scientific ingenuity is required to figure out how to ask animals or children what they think in their language instead of in ours.

At the same time, it also helps to have a sympathy for the creatures you study, a feeling that is not far removed from love. And this sympathy is bound to lead to indignation when those creatures are dismissed or diminished. That response certainly seems justified when you consider the havoc that the ladder-of-nature picture has wrought on the “lower” creatures."
fransdewaal  animals  biology  books  2016  intelligence  multispecies  psychology  cognition  humans  politics  chimpanzees 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Ravens attribute visual access to unseen competitors : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group
"Recent studies purported to demonstrate that chimpanzees, monkeys and corvids possess a basic Theory of Mind, the ability to attribute mental states like seeing to others. However, these studies remain controversial because they share a common confound: the conspecific’s line of gaze, which could serve as an associative cue. Here, we show that ravens Corvus corax take into account the visual access of others, even when they cannot see a conspecific. Specifically, we find that ravens guard their caches against discovery in response to the sounds of conspecifics when a peephole is open but not when it is closed. Our results suggest that ravens can generalize from their own perceptual experience to infer the possibility of being seen. These findings confirm and unite previous work, providing strong evidence that ravens are more than mere behaviour-readers."
corvids  monkeys  chimpanzees  2015  theoryofmind 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Chimpanzees who attacked drone with a STICK took 'deliberate action' | Daily Mail Online
"• Drone was filming at Royal Burgers Zoo chimp enclosure for a TV show
• Chimpanzees spotted the drone - and one grabbed a branch
• On its second attempt, it knocked the drone out of the sky "

[via: https://twitter.com/austinkleon/status/640267042264780800 ]

[See also: “ Burgers' Zoo's Tushi the chimp planned drone attack, researchers say”
http://www.theage.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/burgers-zoos-tushi-the-chimp-planned-drone-attack-researchers-say-20150904-gjfqd0.html

[Previously: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:5d068552c87d ]
chimpanzees  cameras  multispecies  dones  gopro  cameraencounters  animals  zoos  2015  via:austinkleon  quadcopters  primates 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Like Us, Chimps Go Bananas For Booze | KPBS
"Chimpanzees are smart. They can master sign language, swimming and even cooking. Now, evidence shows they are using their smarts to sip wine.

Scientists spotted wild chimps guzzling wine not once, not twice, but 51 times over the course of a 17-year study in the village of Bossou in Guinea, according to research published Tuesday in Royal Society Open Science.

Here's how they do it.

The chimps hone in on raffia palms, a plant that produces a tree sap that naturally ferments into wine. Villagers in Bossou traditionally leave out containers in the morning at the crown of the trees for the sap to drip into throughout the day. When the coast is clear, the chimps periodically swoop in on the jugs.

They start by gathering a leaf and folding it into a scoop-like tool. Then it's time to dip the leaf in and drink, the study notes. In video recordings of the events, adult chimps hastily swigged the cocktail, averaging about nine dips per minute. Adolescents took part in the shenanigans, too, averaging 9.7 dips per minute.

Anthropologist Kimberley Hockings of Oxford Brookes University lead the study. She says the findings prove that apes — at least in the community studied — are not averse to ethanol; they can even make a habit out of "happy hour."

The research team is cautious to conclude whether the chimps are drinking the raffia wine to get a buzz or just because they like the sweet taste. To find that out, they say you'd have to do an experiment comparing chimpanzees' preference for non-fermented versus fermented palm sap.

Hockings says the study also didn't yield much insight on whether the chimps actually got drunk from the wine. However, in some of the incidents the scientists observed, the apes consumed large enough quantities of sap to influence their behavior.

"On one occasion that I observed, the chimpanzees rested immediately after drinking the palm wine, which struck us at the time as a likely effect of the [drink]," Hockings writes in an email to The Salt. "Although it's tricky to conclude it was because of the ethanol."

Other scientists who've studied wild apes say their intake of alcohol is rare, but not unheard of.

Green monkeys have been caught boozing it up on St. Kitts, a Caribbean island packed with beach resorts. There, the Old World monkeys are frequently spotted snagging vacationers' cocktails and then stumbling about.

But these latest findings are some of the most detailed yet, according to Robert Dudley, an physiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of The Drunken Monkey: Why We Drink and Abuse Alcohol.

"This is a comprehensive assessment of a frequent occurrence that involves not one, or two, but many perpetrators," says Dudley, who was not involved with the study. "It's super important to document anything going on with the great apes, particularly something related to modern human behaviors."

Dudley thinks the study goes beyond proving chimps like to monkey around; it bolsters the idea that human attraction to alcohol is not recent, but deep within our roots.

The findings from Guinea specifically support the hypothesis that the ancestors of modern humans evolved the ability to digest ethanol a long, long time ago, he says. The theory goes that our ability to digest ethanol arose during our transition from the trees to the ground when we needed to obtain energy from fermented fruits that had fallen to the floor, not just ripe fruits on tree limbs.

Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard University, disagrees with the theory, saying there is consistent evidence that primates avoid fermented, ethanol-rich rotting fruits.

He argues that ethanol in rotting fruits is not the equivalent of ethanol in beer.

"Chimps have long been known to drink ethanol in human fermented productions," he tells The Salt in an email. "So the big question is, 'What's the difference?' "

The study authors say we may get more answers once additional research is conducted on chimps and how they forage for foods containing ethanol."
chimpanzees  animals  apes  behavior  alcohol  2015 
june 2015 by robertogreco
James & Other Apes
"While watching a nature program on primates I was struck by their facial similarity to our own. Humans are clearly different to animals, but the great apes inhabit that grey area between man and animal. I thought it would be interesting to try to photograph gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans using the aesthetic of the passport photograph- its ubiquitous style inferring the idea of identity.

I decided against photographing in zoos or using ‘animal actors’ but traveled to Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia to meet orphans of the bush meat trade and live pet trade."
animals  apes  gorillas  chimpanzees  bonobos  orangutans  jamesmollison  portraits  faces  photography  identity  multispecies  congo  indonesia  drc  cameroon 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Frans de Waal: The Bonobo and the Atheist | Chicago Humanities Festival
"Frans de Waal, recognized for his expertise on primate behavior and social intelligence, has produced some of his field’s most influential research. Having observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food, he is convinced that the seeds of ethical behavior are found in primate societies. The translation to humans—their closest living relatives—is a natural step: are we by nature selfish and aggressive, or cooperative and peace-loving, and how have these traits evolved? Join him for a far-ranging exploration of the origins of morality."
fransdewaal  morality  religion  science  ethics  behavior  2015  via:anne  primates  animals  charlesdarwin  bonobos  conflictresolution  chimpanzees  darwin  reconciliation  cats  domesticcats  mammals  emotions  social  empathy  atheism  multispecies 
may 2015 by robertogreco
BBC News - How much science is there in new Planet of the Apes film?
"So what did this top primatologist think of the new instalment in the Planet of the Apes franchise?

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which goes on release in the US on Friday, is a bold sequel to the 2011 re-boot. That movie - Rise of the Planet of the Apes - saw a group of genetically modified primates revolt against their human masters.

The new film continues the story of that rebellion's instigator, an intelligent chimpanzee by the name of Caesar, but picks up his story after a manmade virus has devastated the human population. Amid the rubble of our civilisation, the apes are pitted against surviving pockets of Homo sapiens in a battle for mastery of the planet.

Prof de Waal calls the storyline "impressive", adding: "I'm not usually into action films like this one, but this held my attention.

"The apes are very humanised: They walk on two legs, they talk - somewhat - they shed tears. In real life, apes do a lot of crying and screaming, but they don't produce tears like we do."

However, other aspects of ape behaviour in the film, he says, are true to life.

"We know chimpanzees are aggressive and territorial - they wage war. The use of tools and weapons is also a possibility," he explains.

To quote a colleague in his field, he said: "If you gave guns to chimps, they would use them."

The primatologist says the reconciliation following a fight between Caesar and Koba - a bonobo character in the film - rang true in terms of ape interactions. He says he also recognised real-life behaviour in a scene where the apes are seen bowing before their appointed leader.

In real groups, Prof de Waal says, "when an alpha male makes an appearance, the other apes grovel and make themselves appear small".



"If the studio were to make another instalment, Prof de Waal says he would advise the filmmakers to include more female and juvenile ape characters, to give a sense of real group dynamics among the animals. In the wild, gorilla and orang males rarely co-operate, as they do in the film, though this is more likely for chimps.

But he praises the film's "astonishing" visual effects, which leads us on to an issue that exercises the professor - the welfare of primates in entertainment.

Prof de Waal strongly opposes the use of real primate actors in advertising, film and television, and comments that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' realistic depictions of apes using computer technology alone proves that the industry has no need for the genuine article.

"I hope the practice disappears completely," he tells me.

"The first Planet of the Apes movie raised some philosophical issues: What are the ethics of keeping humans in a cage? Which is a reversal of the issue we are faced with now: What are the ethics of keeping an ape in a cage?"

So if apes really did usurp humans as the dominant group on the planet, what does de Waal think it would be like with chimps, bonobos, gorillas and orangs at the top of the pecking order?

"Hmmm," he replies, pausing for a moment. "I'm not an optimist in that regard. The male chimpanzee is very aggressive. I'm not sure they would be angels of peace, as Caesar is in this movie.

"The bonobo would be a more peaceful character - they do not wage war on other groups as chimpanzees do. These groups have even been shown to mingle in the wild on occasion."

"It would be more like Woodstock - and a completely different movie.""
apes  chimpanzees  primates  planetoftheapes  paulrincon  via:alexismadrigal  2014  fransdewaal  bonobos  orangutans  ethics  fiction  filmmaking  behavior  tools  aggression 
july 2014 by robertogreco
On Being an Octopus | Boston Review
"If octopuses did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them. I don’t know if we could manage this, so it’s as well that we don’t have to. As we explore the relations between mind, body, evolution, and experience, nothing stretches our thinking the way an octopus does.

In a famous 1974 paper, the philosopher Thomas Nagel asked: What is it like to be a bat? He asked this in part to challenge materialism, the view that everything that goes on in our universe comprises physical processes and nothing more. A materialist view of the mind, Nagel said, cannot even begin to give an explanation of the subjective side of our mental lives, an account of what it feels like to have thoughts and experiences. Nagel chose bats as his example because they are not so simple that we doubt they have experiences at all, but they are, he said, “a fundamentally alien form of life.”

Bats certainly live lives different from our own, but evolutionarily speaking they are our close cousins, fellow mammals with nervous systems built on a similar plan. If we want to think about something more truly alien, the octopus is ideal. Octopuses are distant from us in evolutionary terms, have a nervous system of very different design, and bodies with no bones and little fixed shape at all. What is it like to be an octopus? The question is intrinsically interesting and, beyond that, provides a good way to chip away at the problem Nagel raised for a materialist understanding of the mind."



"Getting a sense of what it feels like to be another animal must involve the use of memory and imagination."
animals  octopus  imagination  memory  perspective  thinking  2013  petergodfrey-smith  materialism  nature  mollusks  cephalapods  bats  thomasnagel  richarddawkins  psychology  bennyhochner  tamargutnick  takaakikaneko  masakitomonaga  chimps  chimpanzees  science  technology  philosophy  mind 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Lucy - Radiolab
"Chimps. Bonobos. Humans. We're all great apes, but that doesn’t mean we’re one happy family. This hour of Radiolab: stories of trying to live together.

Is this kind of cross-species co-habitation an utterly stupid idea? Or might it be our one last hope as more and more humans fill up the planet? A chimp named Lucy teaches us the ups and downs of growing up human, and a visit to The Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa highlights some of the basics of bonobo culture (be careful, they bite)."
humans  animals  apes  human-animalrelations  relationships  lucy  chimpanzees  chimps  cross-species  interspecies  radiolab  2010  human-animalrelationships 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Chimpanzees: Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter - New York Times
"More recent examination shows that despite profound differences in the two species, just a 1.23 percent difference in their genes separates Homo sapiens from chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes."
animals  evolution  chimpanzees  human  science  biology 
april 2007 by robertogreco

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