DailyDirt: Are Animals Getting Smarter?

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

As people study animals in more depth, we're finding out that animals may be smarter than previously thought. There might be some confirmation bias in some of these studies, since no one really looks for animals that are dumber. But it's still fascinating to see complex animal behavior that suggests their cognitive abilities aren't so different from humans. Here are a few examples of some interesting animal observations. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.


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    Pixelation, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 5:10pm

    I remember watching a show on squirrels. They could do an obstacle course and remember how to get past 24 obstacles in a row. Pretty impressive.

     

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    Beta (profile), Jun 20th, 2012 @ 5:24pm

    as smart as they need to be to survive

    I remember reading years ago about the problem of designing food lockers for use in Yosemite National Park-- the idea being that tourists could store their food in them, and bears would be unable to get them open. One ranger summed up the problem:

    "There is considerable overlap between the intelligence of the smartest bears and the dumbest tourists."

     

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      Beta (profile), Jun 20th, 2012 @ 5:26pm

      Re: as smart as they need to be to survive

      Correction: now that I look it up, I find that it was garbage cans, not food lockers.

       

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        Michael Ho (profile), Jun 20th, 2012 @ 5:36pm

        Re: Re: as smart as they need to be to survive

        Yah, and bears have been known to destroy cars in order to get to the snacks people left on their front seats. Bears have a pretty good sense of smell, and food left in a hot car is like making microwave popcorn in your office cube....

        The bear-proof garbage cans in the park seem to work okay now -- I don't know how many iterations it took, tho. :P

         

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    Pickle Monger (profile), Jun 20th, 2012 @ 5:34pm

    Raccoons are the next evolution of sentient life on Earth...

    I once got outsmarted by a raccoon... The furry fucker created a diversion and while I was checking out what was happening with my tent, he/she stole my bread and nearly ruined my dinner. I threw my axe at it. Missed. :-(

     

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    Androgynous Cowherd, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 5:55pm

    They didn't name the mouse Algernon?

    For shame, research team. For shame.

    I don't care how well you know your way around an electron microscope, you must now turn in your Official Geek Membership Cards.

     

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    Androgynous Cowherd, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 5:56pm

    Meta: How do you...

    ...dismiss that new pop-up bar at the bottom of TD pages? There's nothing on it that seems to function as a hide/down button...

     

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      Michael Ho (profile), Jun 20th, 2012 @ 6:02pm

      Re: Meta: How do you...

       

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        Androgynous Cowherd, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 7:14pm

        Re: Re: Meta: How do you...

        You can disable it in your preferences


        I don't have an account here and I'm hardly going to get one just to remove this popup -- that would be rewarding the annoyance and making it effective as a way to coerce people into signing up, and therefore against my principles.

        While I can live with it, I should warn you that a lot of people nowadays surf using small devices -- phones, and those new "netbook" laptops with wide but vertically-narrow screens. They often have quite low pixel resolutions, like 540 high for the netbooks and lower still for smartphones. On those, your fancy new popup probably covers a quarter of the screen and when you add in the browser title bar and address bar mobile users are peering at Techdirt through a keyhole now!

         

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          Androgynous Cowherd, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 7:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: Meta: How do you...

          Addendum: an additional chunk of right-hand sidebar would work much better, since the problem is going to be worst on those wide-but-short netbook screens. As for phone users, their screens are even narrower than high and not high. I'd recommend, if you don't do this already, serving recognized phone UAs a version of the page with no sidebars at all, just a header and then an article or articles. The stuff in this new popup could simply be stuck at the bottom of the page (rather than the bottom of the screen) (indeed, it could for every UA).

           

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          Michael Ho (profile), Jun 20th, 2012 @ 7:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Meta: How do you...

          You don't need an account as long as your cookies are enabled. Just try to use that preferences link without signing in and you'll see.

          The new toolbar actually takes up less space on an iPhone, but it makes the toolbar text a bit small for reading.... Not sure how it looks on an ultrabook screen.

           

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            Androgynous Cowherd, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 7:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Meta: How do you...

            I'm still not seeing here a justification for it not being inserted inline in the page, either in the right sidebar or at the bottom or in between an article and its comments. Nobody's interested in "related articles" until they've gotten to the bottom of the current one, as a general rule...

             

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              Androgynous Cowherd, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 7:53pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meta: How do you...

              Speaking of which, isn't there already an "if you liked this post, you might also like..." in between an article and its comments? This new thing seems to be completely redundant with that.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 5:44pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Meta: How do you...

                Is not that redundant if you believe in evolution, the best adapt the others go extinct, think of that bar as a test, how do you get rid of it?

                 

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 6:16pm

      Re: Meta: How do you...

      get noscript, disable all 3rd party scripts by default, add in the safe sites you want to see. bingo, clutter free net.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

    "Smarter than previously thought" is not the same thing as "getting smarter".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 7:23pm

    anyone who know anything about animal intelligence knows fully well that chimps are REALLY STUPID, dog's and birds shit all over chimps on even the most simple of tasks

     

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    kstahmer (profile), Jun 20th, 2012 @ 7:42pm

    Human hubris

    Our pre-conceptualizations are incorrect, based on two human misconceptions:

    1. Animals are smarter than we realize, and
    2. Humans are dumber than we realize.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2012 @ 10:13pm

    "Are Animals Getting Smarter?"

    No, humans are just getting dumber.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 1:26am

    "What are we going to do today, Brain Storm?"
    "Same thing we do every day: Try to take over the WORLD!!!"

     

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