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animal intelligence

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    Chimps and the Zen of Falling Water

    There is a waterfall in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park. Maybe 12 feet high, it’s fairly modestly sized, though even a modest waterfall is quite a magical thing. And it’s here that chimpanzees come to dance. You can watch a video online, narrated by the great primatologist Jane Goodall, who, as with so many chimpanzee behaviors, […]

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    Animals Just Wanna Have Fun

    Perched on the edge of a snowy slope, the youngster drops a small, makeshift sled at his feet. He steps onto it and glides down the incline, struggling to keep his balance. When the sled slows to a stop, he picks it up and trudges back up to the top for another go. Again and […]

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    When Does a Consciousness Test Not Test for Consciousness?

    A pigeon looks at its reflection in the mirror. It sees a blue dot on the reflection’s breast. It reaches down and pecks at the dot on its own breast. This is the classic behavior required for passing the “mirror test,” an influential experiment used to test for self-awareness in animals. Chimpanzees became the first […]

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    This Tool-Using Sniper Changed What We Think About Fish

    An archerfish lets fly at its unsuspecting prey.Ingo Rischawy / Schuster lab, University of Bayreuth    Few animals have had their cognitive abilities maligned like fish. Myths about their dullness abound—no doubt you’ve heard the one about goldfish’s three-second memories. But have you also heard the one about gobies memorizing the location of rock pools? Or coral […]

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    Human vs. Squirrel: The Battle of Wits Is On

    “Hey, thanks for the new feeder. Now I can pretend I’m super-squirrel while I eat!”IanC66 via Shutterstock Feed the birds, they said. It will be fun, they said. Early this spring I bought a simple wood-and-plastic bird feeder. My children and I filled it with feed that promised to lure colorful birds, hung it from […]

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    In Changeable Times, Inventiveness Could Save Your Species

    There’s no doubt that the climate in many parts of the planet is changing quickly. The planet is getting hotter, sea levels are rising, storms are intensifying, many lands are drying up—and there are going to be more changes that will test organisms’ ability to adapt and survive. While many species on the planet are […]

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    A Crowdsourced Expert Interview

    Nautilus readers delve further into the idea that metaphors make us human.

  • Don't I look fine

    A Moment When Animals Started to Seem More Like People

    Any self-respecting pet owner will confidently claim that their dog or cat (or rabbit, or gerbil) seems sentient, exhibiting a distinct temperament and emotional responses. I know my many beloved pets over the years could feel pain, and fear, as well as love and trust. But are our pets truly conscious creatures? Or are we […]