Friday, December 27, 2002


Do animals think?
When a fox hears the hounds baying and starts to run, is it obeying some ancient instinct, or does it 'know' to be afraid?
Tim Radford, Wednesday December 18, 2002

Mammals have brains. So they can feel pain, experience fear and react in disgust....

Apes, as humanity's closest relatives, show unexpected abilities. Researchers from St Andrews in 1999 counted 39 different ways in which chimpanzees deal with food: since these differ according to group and geography, they have used the word "culture" to describe these differing methods. One female chimpanzee in Kyoto two years ago convinced researchers that she can place Arabic numerals in ascending order one to nine. Two rhesus moneys called Rosencrantz and Macduff astonished a team at Columbia University in New York in 1998 by distinguishing groups of objects numbering one to four. Chimpanzees in large captive colonies forge alliances, switch sides and doublecross each other. They have also been seen in the wild systematically searching for leaves that have a medicinal effect: from such observations, a new branch of research has been born. It is called zoopharmacognosy.

Chimpanzees and humans share a common ancestor, and 98% of their DNA....