Dolphin intelligence is under fire,
but are these arguments over brain size relevant in the face of overwhelming behavioral evidence?
Dolphins have been known to display almost all of the qualities which we would consider uniquely human, qualities that we would consider a mark of ‘higher’ intelligence. They are tool users
, they are highly creative
(perhaps even artistic
), they enjoy recreational and social
activities, from surfing (either on waves
or around the prow of boats
) to sex
, and they have proven time
and time again
that they are self-aware
. They’ve also formed symbiotic relationships with fisherman
, and recent reports suggest that dolphins even have names for each other.
But perhaps Douglas Adams said it best in the Hitchhiker’s Guide: “Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much... the wheel, New York, wars, and so on, whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely the dolphins believed themselves to be more intelligent than man for precisely the same reasons.”
posted by heylight
on Sep 4, 2006 -
Altered Oceans: A Primeval Tide of Toxins The fireweed began each spring as tufts of hairy growth and spread across the seafloor fast enough to cover a football field in an hour. When fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos.
posted by MetaMonkey
on Aug 1, 2006 -
The Human Speechome Project
- "A baby is to be monitored
by a network of microphones and video cameras for 14 hours a day, 365 days a year, in an effort to unravel the seemingly miraculous process by which children acquire language.". Selected video clips
(PDF, 750KB). To test hypotheses of how children learn, Prof Deb Roy's team at MIT will develop machine learning systems that “step into the shoes” of his son by processing the sights and sounds of three years of life at home. Total storage required: 1.4 petabytes
posted by Gyan
on Jul 23, 2006 -
"Pandas are endangered because they are utterly incompetent... Pandas are badly designed, undersexed, overpaid and overprotected. They went up an evolutionary cul-de-sac and it is too late to reverse."
posted by kliuless
on Jul 2, 2006 -
has a somewhat technical but free supplement
on stem cells (alongwith a podcast and related blog
posted by Gyan
on Jul 2, 2006 -
Today in weird animals
: An international group of scientists has described an animal that provides nutrition for its young by letting them peel off and eat its skin.
posted by Afroblanco
on Apr 17, 2006 -
Owls are rad.
Sometimes they look kind of metallic and scary
, sometimes wise
, sometimes puzzled
, and sometimes like skulls
); sometimes they sound like dogs or pigs
, sometimes they sound like a little train
, sometimes they sound alarmed
, (Index of MP3s
); sometimes you come across an extensive gallery of Central and North American owls
, and even a description of the '04-'05 Northern Owl Invasion
; sometimes it's a dynamic range map of Owls of the Western Hemisphere
; sometimes it's the OwlCam
homepage with downloadable owl movies
, sometimes it's a series of articles on all things owl
; sometimes at BiologyBase
it's a printable owl sighting lifelist
, sometimes it's Ruru, the morepork
, New Zealand's native owl at NZBirds
. Or, w0t! w0t!
, it's attracting barn owls
and building nest boxes
at World Owl Trust. Previous MeFi birding FPP.
posted by OmieWise
on Mar 28, 2006 -
Those that eat nectar:
and of course some bats!!!
Many plants are adapted
to such creatures
posted by beerbajay
on Mar 21, 2006 -
: Anatomical Basis of Facial Expression Learning Tool. See how all the different muscles in your face work. Flash interface; via Drawn!
posted by Gator
on Mar 15, 2006 -
“Once we realize that Deep Time
can never support narratives of evolution, we are forced to accept that virtually everything we thought we knew about evolution is wrong.”
It’s not the latest salvo from the proponents of intelligent design... [more inside]
posted by nanojath
on Nov 25, 2005 -
The Aquatic Ape Theory
(often referred to as the AAT or AAH) says humans went through an aquatic or semi-aquatic stage in our evolution and that this accounts for many features seen in human anatomy and physiology. Using the principle of convergent evolution, it says that life in an aquatic environment explains these features, and that a transition from ape to hominid in a non-aquatic environment cannot. See also: BBC
posted by grumblebee
on Sep 20, 2005 -
Genes Reveal Recent Human Brain Evolution.
Two important new papers
in the journal Science
) from the evolutionary geneticist and rising star, Bruce T. Lahn (see this
recent profile from The Scientist
), are potentially the tips of some very large icebergs. The papers document how two genes related to brain properties that underwent strong selection during the course of hominid evolution, have continued
undergoing strong selection since the emergence of anatomically modern man. The papers wonderfully illustrate how biological evolution is an ongoing process
as well as the artificial distinction
between “micro” and “macro” evolution, and promise to be controversial for two reasons: First, the brain genes underwent the strongest selection during two periods
of cultural and technological efflorescence (roughly 37,000 and 5,800 years ago). Second, the genes are distributed very differently in modern human population groups, existing at very high frequencies in some groups and being very rare in others, ensuring that the modern function of these genes will be a source of more research and much impassioned debate. More observations
from anthropologist John Hawks.
posted by Jason Malloy
on Sep 8, 2005 -
EMBO's report on Time and Aging (free access) contains an essay
wherein the author, Karin Knorr Cetina, from the University of Konstanz, Germany, argues that death and aging used to be major issues that defined what it means to be human and helped us find our place in society by showing us the limits of what is possible to achieve as a human. With the advances in science, particularly biological advances in slowing aging
and technological advances in extending human function
, we no longer accept our fate. Instead of accepting that we all grow old and die so we should take our place in society, with the expectation that if we contribute, society will take care of us, too, we now have promises being made by science that death and aging are no longer inevitable. Where are we headed, then? If we can no longer find our place by finding the limits of achievement and accepting our place within them, how do we work as a collective?
posted by Mr. Gunn
on Jul 25, 2005 -