Evolution of Intelligence More Complex Than You Might Have Thought

Intelligence comes from the Latin verb “intellegere”, which means “to understand”. By this rationale, intelligence is arguably different from being “smart”. The nature of and evolutionary development of animal intelligence is significantly more complicated than many have assumed.

Intelligence comes from the Latin verb “intellegere”, which means “to understand”. By this rationale, intelligence is arguably different from being “smart”. It is a property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities, such as the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn. We are used to thinking of humans as occupying the sole pinnacle of evolutionary intelligence. That’s where we’re wrong.

New research suggest that evolution of Intelligence is more complex than once thought:

Despite cartoons you may have seen showing a straight line of fish emerging on land to become primates and then humans, evolution is not so linear. The brains of other animals are not merely previous stages that led directly to human intelligence.

Instead — as is the case with many traits—complex brains and sophisticated cognition have arisen multiple times in independent lineages of animals during the earth’s evolutionary history.

With this new understanding comes a new appreciation for intelligence in its many forms. So-called lower animals, such as fish, reptiles and birds, display a startling array of cognitive capabilities. Goldfish, for instance, have shown they can negotiate watery mazes similar to the way rats do in intelligence tests in the lab.

One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom

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2 thoughts on “Evolution of Intelligence More Complex Than You Might Have Thought”

  1. Ordinary animals in fiction have a significantly increased intelligence . Not necessarily the Talking Animals . Not the Funny Animals . Just the wild and domestic animals encountered in stories where humans are the main characters. Such animals can frequently clearly understand everything humans say, understand human emotions, read, figure out how to solve problems on their own, and so forth. This is also true for cases in which the animals can talk to each other [so the audience can hear them] but are common animals in the eyes of any humans in the film. Beyond that, they will, if they belong to a human, also circumvent their natural instincts in order to aid or protect their humans. See also Animal Talk , Friend to All Living Things , Timmy in a Well , and Most Writers Are Human . See Uplifted Animal , for when it’s deliberately done in-universe. Not to be confused with Mysterious Animal Senses . Not to be confused with Tropey the Wonder Dog , which is about metaphorical dogs. There is some Truth in Television . Parrots are intelligent enough to ask for their favourite foods. Parrots appearing in fiction vary from the “polly wanna cracker” level of intelligence, to being smart enough to carry on a full conversation . A certain African Grey parrot, Alex, was trained by Dr. Irene Pepperberg at Brandeis University to count up to six, correctly identify the type, color, material and shape of objects, and was showing a basic grasp of abstract concepts like “same” and “different” by the time he died.

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