Animals are not stupid. They communicate with each other, pass knowledge on to future generations and know how to respond intelligently to human-caused situations.
Spiders have been around for a long time in the evolution of life, much longer than even the most distant human ancestors. They are said to have originated 400 million years ago and soon produced the silk thread with which to make their webs. That silk is now central to a question that not many spider-haters would be happy about: How smart are spiders, really?
Many people tend to see most other animals as “machines” of sorts: beings that respond instinctively to what happens in their environment, as evolutionarily pre-programmed robots without any form of “involvement”. But spiders correct that picture. Research indicates that they are able to think and plan ahead. They can handle complex learning behaviors and show surprise when something they didn’t expect happens. You should probably think about this before you kill a spider in your home.
Research indicates that spiders are able to think and plan ahead.
It’s interesting that spiders use their webs as an extension of their bodies, just like how we use our smartphones as an extension of our memory and social world. To properly build their webs, spiders must have some kind of mental map of their immediate environment in their little heads. They are constantly adapting their web to changes in their environment and using it as an additional meaning. Thus, it becomes part of the spider’s knowledge and decision-making processes.
In order to make the most of the prevailing conditions, spiders also use strings of balloons – very long, thin wind-blown silk threads on which young spiders hang to scatter. The hunting techniques of spiders, which do not make webs but stalk and capture prey, also testify to the complexity we usually associate only with killer whales and other animals we call “more or less intelligent.”
Over the past 20 years, a lot of research has been done on animal intelligence, whether or not it is related to “cultural heritage” studies. This means: behavior that is transmitted from one animal to another through learning processes and becomes part of the group’s defining characteristics. For example, there is a group of orcas off the coast of Argentina that have evolved the exceptional hunting technique of gliding from the waves onto the shore and catching young sea lions. He would start with one animal that ventured so far, and then teach his trick to other members of the group. Elsewhere, killer whales team up to generate waves strong enough to wash sea lions off an ice floe. Older and experienced animals lead the attack dance and thus pass on their knowledge to the younger generations.
Two-thirds of an octopus’s brain is divided into its eight arms.
Chimpanzees have been known to develop special tools for a group to use in their environment, such as stone hammers for cracking nuts on stone anvils or thorns for picking ants and termites from a nest. Techniques became popular on the set, but nowhere else. They belong to the “culture” of the group.
In both South Africa and Indonesia, groups of monkeys have learned to take advantage of tourists. They pull up convertibles to steal hand luggage, which they only return to after receiving a “ransom” in the form of sugary treats. The behavior has become a tourist attraction in itself. The monkeys are said to have gained a kind of economic insight, as they realize that some items are more valuable than others and adjust the size of the ransom required for the estimated value.
Birds are also able to respond in surprising ways to new situations, whether or not they are human-induced. In Japan, local crows have developed the habit of placing nuts on stationary car tires at traffic lights, which crack as cars leave. All over the world, sparrows have been observed learning to open automatic sliding doors of fast food restaurants by flying in front of the sensors, after which they pick up leftovers from the tables inside. Similarly, swallows have learned to open garage doors so they can find a safe place to breed. Sometimes you see them flying back and forth in front of a garage, until they “find” the sensors and open the gate.
Also seen: Alligators put twigs on their snouts to catch herons for nesting material. It is said that wasps are able to distinguish human faces, and bumblebees recognize modest numbers. Even mosquitoes learn how to avoid pesticide situations after one bad experience.
There is a heated debate about whether or not cleaner scarves are able to recognize themselves in a mirror. The mirror test is an experiment from psychology to determine when a child is aware of their presence – usually from the age of three. Self-awareness is considered a higher form of intelligence, although some analysts are now challenging this association. Animals such as elephants and magpies pass the test without any problem, which is based on the assessment of a colored dot on the forehead or chest of the animal being tested. If she interacts with the ball in the mirror, she is not aware of its existence, and if she reaches for the ball on her body, then she is.
Scrubbers are reef animals that groom other fish like true groomers. The fish to be cleaned – often much larger than the cleaners – present themselves for cleaning. Presumably, clean fish can only do this safely if they are aware of their presence. The test seems to indicate that they recognize themselves in the mirror. But critics question the reliability of the test preparation. Since the fish cannot point, tricks must be used to make the experiment possible. Dolphins, who also can’t point, were better off cleaner weeds.
Interestingly, the potential for cleaner herbalists to have some form of self-awareness is taken very seriously. But researching the mental abilities of animals is not easy. It is already difficult for humans to understand what other people think, much less to understand the animals in that region. The basic conclusion of recent research into animal intelligence and culture is that animals are always smarter than we think. This must have implications for the way we view animals and — especially — how we treat them.
Obviously, intelligence and culture do not necessarily require brain structures as large and complex as ours. The intellectual abilities of magpies are similar to those of chimpanzees, but magpies have brains from 10 to 20 grams, and chimpanzees from 400 to 500 grams. The neurons of magpies are filled in much more closely than those of chimpanzees. It’s also more energy efficient, so it takes less energy to come up with solutions – energy efficiency isn’t just an important component of our society.
Termite air conditioner
Interestingly, the amazing intellectual abilities of octopuses, whose brains are comparable in size to the brains of dogs, stem from a completely different brain structure than ours: it has a more decentralized structure. Two-thirds of an octopus’s brains are distributed over its eight arms, and the remainder serves as a central hub with a primary coordinating role. Despite the significant differences, octopuses are at least as smart as dogs.
An influx of new research findings dispels the notion that intelligence is a relatively recent evolutionary—in an outmoded view for some, it is an exclusively human thing. Intelligence is so useful that it also evolved and thrived early in the history of life and in many places in the animal kingdom.
Some seriously thoughtful thinkers suggest that no animal is capable of building nuclear cathedrals or missiles, assuming that they can be considered useful achievements. But on the contrary, despite many years of research, people of genius have not yet succeeded in recreating the combination of strength and refinement of cobwebs, or translating the unique air conditioning in termite mounds into a relatively efficient human physique. And yes, other animals have taken much longer than us to work on their inventions, but that shouldn’t detract from their merits.
Intelligence is a flexible process: you have it to a greater or lesser extent. This is true even for individuals within a species or group. The idea that all animals in a group are the same should also be fixed. Just like us, other animals have personalities and personalities. No animal can simply be considered the “average” of the group. Some Atalanta stay with us for the winter, while others migrate to the warmer south for the winter. Some zebra finches can’t stand each other, while others become best friends.
Some of the slender-stem ants in their little colonies in the acorns are bold, constantly looking for novelties, others are careful and stick with what they know. You need both types to work optimally as a group. The difference in this case is in the ‘nurture’, in the personality of the first older animal shown to you around your nest when you were young. If that’s reckless, you’re reckless. If you are careful, you have to stay careful. In our world, good teachers also make a difference in your personal development.
The usefulness of intelligence is increasingly linked to the sharing of information between individuals in a group. In many cases, learning from each other will be faster than having to figure everything out on your own through a process of trial and error. The distinction is well illustrated by differences in skills between Sumatran and Borneo orangutans. In Borneo they lead a much more solitary life than in Sumatran, so they have developed fewer social and practical skills. In Sumatra, animals learn from each other. For example, they have developed the habit of using leaves as a glove when they have to pick prickly fruits. In Borneo they cannot.
The more intelligent the perceiving animal, the more easily it will absorb the cultural characteristics of a group or the specific requirements of its environment. The acquired special abilities are passed on to other animals through cultural transfer. It is even possible that animals that move from one group to another, for example to avoid inbreeding, may introduce new objects into their new living group. For example, immigration can be enriching – something that some in our world do not yet understand. It has undoubtedly played a major role in human history.
“Animals are like humans, they have the same human desires, the same human banter,” said the song from the children’s program. Fabletgesrant A long time ago. Its makers were then closer to it than they had expected. But we should not fall into the fallacy of humanizing animals or projecting human characteristics onto animals. We must respect them for who they are.