The Thoughtful Animal

Yesterday afternoon, I watched the livestream of the “All Creatures Great and Smart” session of the World Science Festival in New York City. The session was absolutely fantastic, and featured Brian Hare, Vanessa Woods, Jeremy Niven, Patrick Hof and Klaus Zuberb├╝hler.

The conversation challenged long-held assumptions about the differences between “animal” and “human”, and included fascinating discussion about pin-sized brains that can count, categorize, and hold a grudge against those who’ve tried to swat them. Does your dog really think and feel like a human? Do our closest primate relatives have brains and emotions similar to ours? What about the storied intelligence of dolphins and singing humpback whales? And do other species hold surprises for us if we’re willing to look closely?

There was even a hippo brain up on the big screen.

Here’s the video from the session. Check it out. Totally worth it.

(video behind the cut)


Here are some links to studies I’ve covered that they spoke about, or similar to ones they spoke about:
Giant Birds and Terrified Monkeys – Evolution of monkey communication
Path Integration in the Desert Ant – Can a tiny nervous system of only a few thousand neurons really do a natural form of trigonometry?
Social Cognition in Dogs – Research from Brian Hare’s lab
Whales, Dolpins, and Human Rights – On the issue of spindle neurons found in whales and dolphins
And of course, go check out Vanessa’s blog, Your Inner Bonobo, and buy her amazing amazing book, Bonobo Handshake!

Follow the rest of the festival at the official festival blog, here on ScienceBlogs or follow #WSF10 on twitter.

Comments

  1. #1 Barbara Johnson
    June 7, 2010

    I would be very interested in speaking with you. I spoke with Dr.Brian Hare about opening a Canine Cognition Center on the West Coast. He knew of no plans. He put me touch with UCLA…no plans there. At least research would be a wonderful beginning….I live in the area.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Barbara Johnson, CPDT-KA
    AABP Endorsed Member
    IAABC Associate
    CCPDT