I have seen paintings done by zoo elephants. They would fall into the "abstract" category if they had been executed by a human. But more interesting to me was something I saw on a display TV a week or two ago. I only caught a small fragment of the program, but there was a pair of elephants being handed paintbrushes. The long canvas in front of where they were standing (each elephant with a human astride it) was a very realistic scene of trees against a blue sky.
Given the small bit of it that I saw, I am not sure if it was some sort of spoof, or if it was on the level. Did the elephants do the whole thing themselves? If so, it was an impressive feat.
There is no doubt many mammal exhibit intelligent behavior. Creative problem solving behavior cannot be classified in any other way. The rap on animal intelligence is they don't accumulate knowledge. How advanced would humans be without books? Human knowledge and intelligence grew at an evolutionary pace until written language appeared on the scene. In the span of a handful of thousands of years since then, we have advanced beyond the wildest imaginings of our ancestors - even of those just generations removed. Knowledge is the most powerful force in the universe.
Well, I'd rather say that it is the constructive power structures connected to agrarianism which has propelled humanity onwards, but books are certainly important as well.
I wonder why this is so. I heard a speech a while back about the chimpanzees who know American Sign Language at the CHCI Institute, quite amazing to say the least. The most interesting thing was after the human researchers taught the chimpanzees ASL, the lead chimpanzee (Washo I believe was the name) taught the other chimpanzees sign language as well (going to the length of contouring their fingers after identifying the object being communicated). The sad thing is that they have expressed desires to be free from captivity, which in itself brings up some moral dilemmas.
Intelligent behavior is not just limited to human beings, heck, even my dog can understand basic phrases and has the capacity to learn.
Agreed. It is what motivates me to continue on my path to science.
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