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Science

Cockatoo Manufactures, Uses Tools 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the already-smarter-than-my-neighbor dept.
grrlscientist writes with news of a cockatoo named Figaro, who was observed to construct and use his own tools to retrieve objects that were outside of his cage. Quoting: "One day, a student caregiver noticed Figaro pushing a stone pebble through the aviary wire mesh, where it fell on a wood structural beam. Unable to retrieve the stone with his foot, Figaro then fetched a piece of bamboo and again attempted to retrieve the stone using the bamboo stick. ... During the next three days, the researchers ran trials of the original scenario, which was repeated ten times but substituting a cashew nut for the pebble. All trials were captured on video and the process of tool manufacture and use was documented photographically. ... 'Figaro made a new tool for every nut we placed there and each time the bird was successful in obtaining it,' reports cognitive biologist Alice Auersperg of the University of Vienna, who led the study (PDF). During these trials, Figaro used 10 tools, nine of which he manufactured and one of which was ready-made."
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Cockatoo Manufactures, Uses Tools

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  • by wwalker (159341) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @07:27PM (#41946131) Journal

    Not sure if you realize it, but you just described how science works in general. Especially physics, and to some degree, math. We observe the world around us and come up with a theory that describes it. Then someone makes a discovery that invalidates that theory. Then someone else comes up with a new theory (or expands/modifies the previous one) to make it work with the new discovery. Then someone else makes a new discovery. And so on and so forth, ad infinitum. Sometimes it happens a bit backwards -- someone comes up with a new theory and then a new discovery is made later on that "proves" that theory.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @08:31PM (#41946555)

    There's long been a bit of an argument over which is smarter: The Parrots, or the Corvids. Naturally, I support the latter team.

    And I the former.

    But I have to admit, one of my favorite animal movies is where the guy leaves a baited hook dangling through a hole in the ice, and while he's away a corvid lands on the cross-beam that the line is tied too and pulls the fish up, an inch or two at a time, by pulling up some line and then standing on it while reaching for another pull.

  • by zidium (2550286) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @11:04PM (#41947197) Homepage

    I forgot to add, that current estimates suggest that somewhere between 2 to 15 percent (no more than 20%) of the American population are completely self-autonomous, soulful entities who have largely superceded biological programming and have become what we idealize as "sovereign humans", living mostly in the noetic sphere of mentalism.

    Due to selection and fitness pressures, since noetic individuals trend to fair poorly in high-crime, war-torn areas, the concentration of noetic beings has actually been declining for the last 100 years in most places. Since individuals who are bootstrapped with noetic capabilities at birth almost certainly require certain genetic combinations, and since the least fit (in a noetic sense) breed the fastest and trend to prey on the relatively much more weak noetic individuals, this trend is both deepening and accelerating.

    Highly noetic nations of the United States, Europe, Russia, and particularly Japan, are even facing extinction-level reproduction failures, if not of their general population (if buttressed by massive immigration from less noetic societies), then certainly of their noetic populations. This culling process is part of the evolutionary flow:

    In the middle-to-long term, the world will once again become mostly bereft of noetic individuals (probably in another 300-500 years, if not hastened by human/natural calamities). This is termed The Grand Supercycle by several branches of theorists (including Elliot Wave theorists). They tend to occur on a scale of ~25,000 years, and we're in the terminal years, accoridng to various ancient calendars scattered around the world.

    And look around you. The collapse of societies, everywhere, will be plainly obvious to everyone who is even partially noetic.

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Sunday November 11, 2012 @03:13AM (#41948007) Journal

    Alex the famous African Grey Parrot would help tutor other Grey Parrots. A chimp can be shown a model of an adjoining room, with a locker containing a nice piece of fruit. When the door opens, it goes straight to the fruit, it groks symbolic reference. Koko the signing gorilla was capable of artwork, word play, and conversations with remarkable sensitivity and insight, all of these traits we take for granted as strictly human, and they are not. These are not anecdotal musings. These are cold hard facts gleaned from test animals in research facilities. The harder we look, the more we see, the more we see how close they are to us and that they deserve to be treated with the respect that sentience or the spark of sentience deserves. Human beings haven't even stopped dehumanizing one another, it is perhaps time that as we protect the human dignity of our own species, that we include all highly intelligent species as well as an expression of that dignity.

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